Paying the national debt

 

Sir, – I would wish that in any election campaign we might reflect on the high amount of national debt we have: somewhere near €200 billion, representing one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the developed world.

This debt has been only stabilised the past 10 years – not reduced by any large measure. Thus before we decide to accept promises of more expenditure on our pressing social issues in a future election, we should ask where the money is to come from for these noble causes and what’s happening to the national debt as a result?

Do we need to spend more money given the national debt, or should we try first to make sure current expenditure is wisely spent? Health being one clear area where we spend comparable EU amounts but get poor returns. What would happen to our national debt in a recession? It’s very vulnerable to economic shocks. The likelihood in such a scenario is cuts to public expenditure and thus we are back on the spend/cut back treadmill that has dominated Irish economics for 40 years.

I’m pretty sure these questions will be ignored in any election but at least I asked!

Raising public debt/expenditure when we have a €200 billion national debt seems to be a crazy endeavour that will inevitably lead to future cutbacks. Sad to say but only the taxpayer could prevent those cutbacks by paying more money. This debt has to be reduced. It’s an iceberg that cannot be ignored. – Yours, etc,

BARRY HAZEL,

Bray, Co Wicklow.