Perspective needed on public expenditure

Sir, – The debate on the balance between government expenditure and government income is always a hot topic.

We have people complaining that public expenditure is too high and increasing. Meanwhile, we have complaints in our media about problems in housing, hospitals, waste facilities and water supply, etc, and the need for more expenditure.

Everyone seems to have forgotten or just ignores the fact that all these problems are much worse because this country suffered a spectacular bankruptcy as a result of the unchallenged reckless decisions of a small number of its own most powerful citizens in the pre-2009 period. Public expenditure went from €19 billion in 1997 to €63 billion in 2009.

With the bailout of the banks, government expenditure was over €100 billion in 2010 while government income was just over €50 billion in 2010.


Relative to the size of the economy that government deficit was three times worse than Greece, which went bust in the same year.

To put that in a 2019 perspective according to estimates present government expenditure is €67 billion and present government income is adequate to cover it.

When we see that unemployment has declined from 16 per cent to 5 per cent in much the same period it has to be said that the Irish recovery over the last decade has been good.

We have to remember, however, that the present problems in housing, health, etc, are worse because of the collapse in 2009-10.

Some of the same people who were in power prior to 2010 and who bankrupted the country are being unchallenged now when they are complaining about the consequences of their own past actions and are blaming everyone else.

That debate needs a bit more balance. – Yours, etc,


Sutton, Dublin 13.