Noonan says budget adjustment to be ‘whatever is necessary’

Burton confirms there will be an ‘easement’ in cuts in health, education and welfare

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan  speaks to reporters at the Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle today. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan speaks to reporters at the Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle today. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 14:40

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the final budgetary adjustment figwill be whatever is necessary to exit the bailout programme.

“We are running the numbers at present and we haven’t arrived at a final number but it will be less than €3.1bn. We have agreed that as a Government,” Mr Noonan told reporters at the Global Irish Economic Forum at Dublin Castle.

Asked would the figure be less than €3 bn, he replied: “What’s the difference between? We don’t talk in small numbers…

“We can’t destroy a good story by having a dress rehearsal. There is a budget coming up. We’ll tell you all that on Budget Day.”

He said: “What I regard as necessary is bringing in a budget which will enable services to continue” and also to make sure Ireland exits the programme. “Whatever is necessary to exit the programme will be done, and the figure which in our judgement is necessary to exit the programme is the figure we will arrive at.”

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton also confirmed there would be an “easement” in the cuts in the big spending areas of health, education and welfare.

She said the fact that the Government was ahead of economic targets “eases the pressure on social welfare”, particularly the fact that 20,000 fewer people were on the live register compared to this time last year, and 33,000 more people were back at work.

The Government is committed to ensuring Budget 2014 delivers a general government deficit of no greater than 5.1 per cent of GDP next year.