Key economic statistics
1. Ireland’s General Government Gross debt was stated as €148.1 billion at the end of 2010 and is estimated to be in the region of €170 billion by the end of 2011 (borrowing for NAMA of €30 billion is off the General Government Balance Sheet). Debt is forecast to reach €200 billion by 2015.
2. Investment has fallen by 66% since the beginning of the recession. €29.4 billion comes from a decline in private sector investment. In 2007 the private sector was willing to invest over 60% of its net income whereas in 2010 it invested less than 20% of its net income. All private investment is made for a profitable return. The investment strike has arisen because the private sector does not expect profitable returns on investment.
3. Unemployment has increased from 4.7% (1.3% long term unemployed) in 2007 when the crisis began to 14.4% (7.8% long term) in 2011. There are 447,100 people on the live register. Emigration is averaging at 40,000 per annum.
4. Even during the boom, Irish government public spending was in the lowest category of the OECD charts. Public spending to GDP between 2004-2007, the boom years, was 34.2% in Ireland. We sat in the lowest category with South Korea, America and Japan. The higher spenders such as Belgium (49.6%), Sweden (54%), and France (52.9%), well outstripped us. Our frontline services cannot afford cuts but reform is required to address issues such as the fact that there are many senior civil and public servants, as well as state agency managers who are underperforming and over paid.
5. The Government is failing to meet commitments that it made at EU level. It is failing to reduce poverty, to curtail climate change and even in its commitment to overseas aid. In this budget the Government needs to set out how it plans to meet the Millennium Development Goal of spending 0.7% of our income on overseas aid by 2015.
6. This state has the fourth lowest tax take as a percentage of GDP in the European Union at 31%, yet we lag behind others with higher tax takes in the world competitiveness rankings (Ireland is 25th).