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Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe)

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Snippet Contents:

When I presented budget 2020 we confronted the main challenge then facing our country, a hard Brexit.
INTRODUCTION
This year, while we continue to prepare for Brexit, we are also responding to the worst global pandemic in a century. We live in an era of great uncertainty and increasing risk. Overcoming these challenges in the interests of our fellow citizens is the central task of this Government. However, it is not enough that this budget which I present with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Michael McGrath, surmounts the immediate threats we face. It must also advance efforts to make progress on the great priorities which our society continues to value. These are core missions for this Government: more homes, improved healthcare and a better national response to climate change.
We have faced numerous difficulties since independence but never one like Covid-19, an invisible enemy that has caused great suffering and disrupted so much of what is central to our national well-being. Equally, we meet this enemy with greater determination, resolve and resources than ever before in our history. This is due to the careful management of our economy when times were good, the support and solidarity of the European Union and more than anything, the hard work, dedication and resilience of the Irish people. Our message is clear: the test we face is daunting, further demanding choices await and the uncertainty and anxiety about the future of lives and livelihoods is great, but we will prevail, we will come through this and from the ashes of the pandemic, together we will build a stronger and more resilient Ireland. Budget 2021 is a bridge to that future.
COVID-19: GOVERNMENT RESPONSE IN 2020
Our determination to act is demonstrated by actions taken. The Government has responded swiftly and assertively during 2020. We were able to respond effectively because we had the financial resources to do so due to recent budgets. As a result of last year's budget, we entered 2020 with a surplus of €1.3 billion and a rainy day fund worth €1.5 billion. Crucially, entering the year with a surplus also reaffirmed our reputation with international markets, helping to keep our interest payments affordable as we borrowed more. To date, the total value of support measures amounts to €24.5 billion, which is nearly eight times last year's budget plan. We have never experienced a challenge like this but equally, Ireland has never delivered such a strong response. As a result of this response we aim to recover more quickly and prevent a recession turning into a prolonged depression. Crucial to this recovery is an understanding that the health of the country and the health of the economy are interdependent; the better our public health, the stronger our economic health. The Government understands the trade-offs in public health choices. We appreciate the impact of decisions on lives and livelihoods.