Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (62)

Gerald Nash


62. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Finance the way in which he plans to avail of the favourable debt dynamics as cited in the recent Central Bank Governor’s pre-Budget letter; his views on the need to retain a long-term perspective regarding the social return from high-quality public investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26799/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The fiscal supports put in place to mitigate the worse effects of the pandemic - including business and household supports - have been largely financed by additional borrowing.

For this year, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) plans to issue debt instruments at the top end of the revised €20-€24 billion bond funding range announced in April.  So far this year, the NTMA has raised almost €21.5 billion, and has also increased its borrowings from short-term debt markets.

Notwithstanding the favourable interest rate environment at present, the debt that has been accumulated - warranted and necessary in the current circumstances - must be repaid or refinanced at a future date.  There is no guarantee the current favourable interest rate climate will continue into the future; we in Ireland know just how quickly market sentiment can change.

To ensure that Ireland can continue to access capital markets (to refinance maturing debt), it is important that the Irish fiscal position does not become an outlier.  Moreover, the Government will, in the spring, bring forward a medium-term strategy to eliminate the deficit over the medium term.  This will ensure that the debt-income ratio is put on a downward trajectory.  The Programme for Government also sets out that windfall gains will be used for debt reduction.

Public investment is, of course, a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.  But what I can say is that notwithstanding the pandemic, investment under the National Development Plan is set to reach €9.2 billion next year.  This investment is required for the development of new social, economic and climate infrastructure.

In line with Programme for Government commitments, it is expected that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will shortly bring a memorandum to the Government regarding the launch of a phased, structured and in-depth review of the National Development Plan.

The purpose of the review is to align the priorities identified in the Programme for Government including climate change, housing policy, transport policy, implementation of Sláintecare and balanced regional development to the associated resourcing requirements.