Dublin, Oct 14: Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan on Tuesday predicted the country’s economy to grow by 6.2 percent in 2015 and 4.3 percent in 2016. Ireland is on course to be the fastest growing economy in the euro zone for the second year in a row, Xinhua news agency quoted Noonan as saying while delivering new year’s budget in parliament on Tuesday.
Ireland’s economy grew at a rate of 5.2 percent last year. He said the top priority of new year’s budget is to keep the country’s economic recovery going, while providing relief and better services for the Irish people.
According to Noonan, the key points of new year’s budget include steps like a cut in the universal social charge (USC), more nurses and doctors for the health service, more affordable and quality childcare, and measures to end the unfair treatment of the self-employed. “These are sensible, affordable steps that will keep the recovery going and bring its benefits to every family,” he said.
On the public finances, he said the forecast deficit for 2015 of 2.1 percent is well ahead of the government’s target of 2.7 percent and the country’s excessive deficit requirement of less than three percent of GDP. “This government has consigned to the history books the days of boom and bust, and the attitude of “if I have it, I’ll spend it”, Noonan said.
Noonan said that 130,000 more people are now in work than at the low point in 2012, adding that this growth in employment is spread across the vast majority of the sectors in the economy. He predicted the creation of another 48,000 new jobs by 2016, saying this will bring the total number of people at work to just over two million. Unemployment is set to fall to eight percent by the end of next year, down from the peak of over 15 percent in 2012, said the Irish minister.