Noonan warns of tough budget despite upbeat data
CSO figures show Ireland exited recession in second quarter as exports rose and spending picks up
“I’ll put it to you this way, if it went the other way today that would be very bad news. It would make the budget far more difficult. But what we have now is a strong set of figures for the second quarter but it only takes us up to the end of June,” he said.
“I suppose the striking piece of news in the figures is that exports are at an all-time high both in value and in volume terms. So we can build on it.
“Now the economy has returned to growth, it gives us hope that we can sustain the of pace of job creation and it gives us very strong hope that as we exit the programme, we’ll have a growing economy with lots of additional people going back to work.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Health James Reilly said the figures were “great news” for the economy. “It continues to recover and that is great news for the Government,” he said. “Health played its part. We took €3 billion in real terms out of our budget which is nearly 20 per cent. We’ve had nearly 10 per cent reduction in staff,” he said.
He said health is very different from many other departments.
“We have demographic pressures,” he said. “We’re going to work hard in health. I’ve made it clear to the HSE and the Department that we have to meet our budget. All the stops will have to be pulled out.
Asked if the figures mean next month’s budget will be less severe, Dr Reilly said: “I think this budget is going to be tough, as the Taoiseach said, no matter what way we go at it. But I hope and I believe it’s the last of the really tough budgets and the country can look now to a much brighter future.
“I think we’ve done extraordinarily well as a people over the last two and a half years. I don’t just compliment the Government on that I compliment the people of Ireland who have borne the strain, who have worked really hard.
“I would like to think that in the budget there might be some little things in there that help those who have found it particularly difficult - parents of young families paying mortgages, people who have seen their income hit in so many different ways. But we are getting this country back on its feet and this time around everybody who shared the pain will share the gain - not just the elite few before.”
Ireland is seeking this year to become the first country to exit a bailout since the euro-region crisis began.
The Department of Finance said on September 10th there may be “some downside potential” to its forecast for 1.3 per cent economic growth for the full year.