I propose to take Questions Nos. 68, 70, 94 and 109 together.
As Deputies will be aware, my Department forecast an Exchequer surplus of £925 million for 1999 on budget day.
This target surplus has since been impacted by two factors. Firstly, the actual 1998 outturn for tax was £36 million higher than expected. This additional buoyancy is expected to carry into 1999. Second, a total of £160 million has been received during April by the Exchequer for the Telecom Eireann employee share ownership programme. This had not been included in the budget day arithmetic.
On 6 April last a detailed briefing was given on the performance of the budget over the first three months of 1999. This reported that current and capital expenditure, non-tax revenue and capital resources were in line with budget day expectations, while there were signs that the underlying prospects for tax receipts were positive. The Exchequer returns showed tax receipts for the first quarter of 1999 were 13.3 per cent higher than in the same period last year, compared to a budget day tax forecast for the year as a whole of a 7.7 per cent increase.