The deficit target of 5.1% of GDP to which the Deputy refers is the maximum general government deficit in 2014 that the Government is required to deliver under the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) in the Stability and Growth Pact. This is part of an agreed consolidation path which Ireland will follow in order to return the public finances to sustainability. I should point out that Budget 2014 forecast a deficit for 2014 of 4.8% of GDP, which is consistent with achieving a primary budget balance. In relation to the end of February 2014 Exchequer Returns, I am confident, on the basis of what I have seen to date, we will achieve the targets set out in Budget 2014.
As the Deputy will be aware, this Government has met all of its targets to date and has achieved substantial progress in setting the public finances and the economy back on the road to good health and this has been acknowledged by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and most economic commentators. My Department will publish updated macroeconomic and budgetary forecasts in April in the Stability Programme Update. These will take account of the latest economic and fiscal data and will give an updated forecast of the general government deficit over the forecast horizon.