Government announce unexpected €100m Budget surplus

There was an unexpected Budget surplus of €100m last year.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined the end of year exchequer results, saying this was the first time spending was ahead of schedule in the decade since the economic crash.

It's being put down to an increase in tax take from corporations and a €250m underspend.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe briefed Cabinet on the latest Exchequer Returns earlier. Exchequer Returns show that tax receipts in 2018 are up almost €4.3b (8.3%) year-on-year

While the healthy financial position for the government was partially as a result of exceptional corporate tax returns, Mr Varadkar said the country was now "very well prepared" for any potential economic downturn if one hit Ireland.

Minister Donohoe said in a statement: "All major tax heads, except excise duties, are up year-on-year, reflecting the growing strength of the economy, while expenditure remains close to Budget day expectations. This means that we are on track to exceed our fiscal targets for 2018, with today’s figures recording a small surplus.

"The main budgetary metric for international purposes is the ‘general government balance’ and this will be reported by the CSO at end-March. However, based upon the Exchequer figures, a small general government surplus is now possible. A modest deficit of 0.1% was projected in the recent Budget. We are now aiming to deliver a surplus of 0.1%."

He added: "This strong performance will provide a stable platform for the external challenges that lie ahead in 2019.

"Any gains in 2018 against profile represent a positive development in terms of our potential to reduce our overall debt burden. We must continue to prioritise the reduction of debt, which in the event of a shock to our tax base, would assist our fiscal capacity to deal with such an occurrence, putting us in a stronger position to weather potential storms and ensure our economy remains resilient."

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