Thursday, 2 June 1994
Dáil Éireann Debate
13. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Finance the amount by which the national debt has increased since the year 1987 with reference to the likely level of debt at the end of the 1994-95 financial year.
The national debt at 31 December 1987 was £23.694 billion. By the end of 1993 this had increased to £28.358 billion. Using the 1994 post budget exchequer borrowing requirement of £803 million the national debt at 31 December 1994 would be £29.161 billion. However, the actual national debt at end of 1994 will be influenced by market developments over the course of the year as well as by other factors so it is not possible to provide a more accurate forecast at this stage. The increase in the national debt since 1987 to the end of 1994 can be roughly estimated to be £5.467 billion, or an average annual increase of 3 per cent.
Mr. Yates: To put this in terms that the ordinary punter can understand, do I take it that since Fianna Fáil returned to  office the national debt has gone up by £6 billion and that, leaving aside GDP, debt ratios and so on, what people understand if they have a mortgage or a bank loan, under the superb economic wizardry of the Government there has been a massive increase in the national debt? Despite unprecendented economic prosperity that the gurus and the spin doctors tell us about, we are in hock to the tune of an extra £6 billion.
Mr. B. Ahern: With nicer colleagues. The figure would be £46 billion because Deputies Bruton and Dukes doubled the national debt in that short period. Deputy Yates should congratulate the Government on bringing the national debt/GNP ration down to about 90 per cent from the level it was at in those days when we thought the IMF and the World Bank would have to be called in to help. That very satisfactory result should be welcomed by Deputy Yates.
Mr. B. Ahern: I have not worked out that figure, but Deputy Yates who has his calculator, can do so. Deputy Yates said earlier that £7.2 billion was almost a pittance and an irrelevant sum of money. Now he is upset about the prospect of £5 billion over a seven year period as against what was a doubling of the debt in the years previous to that. On a serious note, it is the intention to continue to reduce  the debt/GNP ratio during the life of this Government.
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