The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform today (Thursday) published the Annual Report on Public Debt 2019, the aim of which is to provide a comprehensive analysis of public debt dynamics in Ireland. In addition, to highlighting the main developments in public debt over the last year, the report introduces a number of new analytical pieces focusing on broader aspects of public debt, including debt maturity levels and the composition of debt.
The report illustrates that public indebtedness, at 104 per cent of GNI*, remains elevated by both historical and international standards. The stock of debt amounted to €206 billion last year or €42,500 on a per capita basis; one of the largest in the OECD.
Analysis in the report highlights that active debt management has reduced the interest bill and extended maturity profiles. However, the annual interest bill continues to represent a significant operating cost for the State at €5.2 billion last year. Indeed, this payment is equivalent to nearly all of last year’s capital budget. Reducing the level of debt would therefore free-up these resources to be used in areas that could bring long-lasting benefits to citizens.
The analysis of recent trends in the public finances in this report is complemented with dynamic forward-looking assessments of future debt developments which highlight potential vulnerabilities. The debt path is shown to be highly sensitive to any shocks to economic growth. In addition, the report shows that without policy intervention, the sustainability of the public finances will face significant challenges from the projected ageing of the population over the coming decades.
Welcoming the report, Minister Donohoe said:
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