Written Answers. - National Debt.

Ivor Callely

Question:

73 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Finance the total national debt on the latest date for which figures are available; his views on the best alternative to address this debt; the timescale involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17960/95]

The national debt at 31 October 1995 amounted to £30,246 million.

It is not possible to say when economic circumstances may exist which would make it possible to achieve the levels of budget surplus required to pay off the national debt.

This Government's policy is to maintain low budgetary deficits in order to continue downward pressure on the debt burden and meet the fiscal criteria set out in the Maastricht Treaty — i.e. to adhere to an annual general Government deficit of no more than 3 per cent of GDP and reduce the general Government debt to GDP ratio towards 60 per cent.

In this context the 1995 budget allowed for an EBR of £813 million or 2.4 per cent of GNP. This equates to a general Government deficit of 2.7 per cent of GDP which will make 1995 the sixth successive year in which the Maastricht requirement of a maximum 3 per cent has been achieved.
The national debt to GNP ratio has declined from a peak of 125 per cent in 1987 to 95.5 per cent at the end of 1994. Over the same period gross general Government debt as a percentage of GDP has declined from 116.9 per cent to 91.7 per cent. It is expected that a further reduction of over 5 per cent will be recorded in these ratios in 1995.