Ireland's 2019 budget first balanced in decade: finance minister
DUBLIN, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe on Tuesday introduced to the parliament Ireland's 2019 budget as the first balanced one in a decade.
The fact that the Irish government can deliver a balanced budget, the first of its kind since the 2007 financial crisis, is largely due to the improved Irish economy over the last few years, Donohoe said in his budget speech to the lower house of the parliament.
He said the 2018 forecast for Ireland's economic growth is revised up from 5.6 percent to 7.5 percent, compared to last year's 7.2 percent, while predicting a 4.2 percent growth for 2019.
If the economy continues to perform well beyond next year, Donohoe said the public budget is likely to achieve a surplus in future.
A balanced budget will help reduce the high public debt, which was 111 percent of its gross national income in 2017. The debt stands at 42,000 euros (48,300 U.S. dollars) per capita, the highest level in the developed world, he said.
Adopting a balanced budget, he said, will help bring the public debt down to 105 percent of the gross national income in 2018 and 101 percent in 2019.
In the meantime, this measure will help the Irish government to cope with the situation after Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) in March 2019, which is the largest and imminent challenge faced by Ireland, he said.
To minimize the negative impact of Brexit, especially under the scenario where there will be no deal in the Brexit talks between Britain and the EU, the Irish government has taken a number of measures concerning the 2019 budget, he said.
These measures, including the establishment of a 20-billion-euro (23 billion dollar) Rainy Day Fund, increased spending on employment of customs personnel and equipment at airports, sea ports and border crossings with Britain's Northern Ireland, he said.[ Editor: WPY ]