THE Government beat its deficit target last year, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said.
The announcement comes as the latest Exchequer returns show the State's finances are broadly on target, with a weak tax performance last month pushing the yearly figure fractionally lower than expected.
The tax take was 12pc lower in December than originally targeted, with the Department of Finance saying this was caused by the earlier Budget.
VAT was below target for the year but the crucial Christmas trading period will be included in next month's Exchequer release. Income tax was also fractionally down on what was expected, with the department blaming a shortfall in DIRT due to low interest rates.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the data highlights the progress made in stabilising the economy.
"However, looking to the future, it is important that we look beyond consolidation and continue to put in place the conditions that will allow the economy to grow sustainably and facilitate further job growth, the number one priority of Government."
The Government had a target to reduce the budget deficit -- the gap between how much the State spends and takes in through taxes and revenue -- to 7.5pc of the value of the economy in 2013.
The department said the deficit figure will be published by the Central Statistics Office in the coming months.
Key figures include:
* The State spent €11.5bn more than it took in through taxes and revenue last year.
* Tax revenues at €37.8bn are up 3.2pc year-on-year, but down 0.4pc on target.
* Corporation tax for the year is €135m ahead of target.
In other details VAT receipts are €224m behind target for the year but up €165m year-on-year and excise duty was down fractionally on what had been targeted.
A total of €30m was received in local property tax in December, bringing the sum collected last year to €318m.