Saturday 21 October 2017

Noonan and Howlin's 'personal relationship helped turn State finances around'

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin TD and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan TD
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin TD and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan TD
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

The two ministers at the Department of Finance have paid tribute to each other saying their personal relationship has helped turn the State's finances around.

As they announced the Exchequer returns for 2015 Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin described the figures as extremely positive.

They show that the country had a deficit of just €62m last year - compared with more than €8bn at the end of 2014.

Mr Noonan predicted that they will now be able to bring forward their target of a completely balanced budget by a year to 2017.

He said tax returns has seen a "very significant improvement towards the end of the year".

"The big news is that on Budget Day Brendan and I brought in a budget suggesting that the deficit would be well below 3pc target. that's going to come in at 1.5pc now."

Mr Howlin added that he would be "slightly less modest" than his counterpart, saying: "I think the figures today are actually truly remarkable and good."

"We've had both head winds and tail winds. We've arrived now," he said.

"The figures in terms of taxation figures indicate a robust economy. No windfall or boom-time taxes flowing in. I suppose the unemployment rate published today of 8.8pc is an underscoring of the journey we have made."

Overall the tax intake during 2014 was €3bn ahead of target.

Mr Noonan said that much of the good news emanating from the Department was down to how well he worked with Mr Howlin.

"We've had a very good personal relationship and a very good working relationship," he said.

Mr Howlin echoed those words, saying: "I think we worked well together on a personal basis but certainly on a professional basis."

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