By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – Last year’s huge tax take has resulted in the national debt falling by 3.3 billion euros (2.6bn punts) to 36.5 billion euros last year, according to the annual report of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA).
The debt/GDP ratio fell by 11 percent to 29 percent at the end of last year and is now the second lowest among the 15 EU member states.
Ireland is now 40 percent below the EU average, with only Luxembourg being lower.
Since 1990, the NTMA has managed the national debt for the Department of Finance.
It reported the cost of servicing the national debt was 271 million euros below the budget estimate.
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"Last year was a boom year and government revenues shot up very sharply. We had a very large surplus that wasn’t anticipated at the beginning of the year," said Agency CEO Dr Michael Somers.
The exchequer budget surplus last year was 3.2 billion euros.
He said the debt represented 21,348 euros owed for every person at work, compared to 28,068 euros in 1990.
The interest bill on the national debt swallowed about 27.9 percent of total tax revenues in 1990, compared to 7.6 percent now.
Somers said that if present trends continued, the national debt would disappear by the end of the decade.