Budget package of €14bn framed against backdrop of ‘uncertainty’, McGrath says

Minister says Irish economy in ‘a strong position today’ but was ‘all too aware’ of potential risks that could materialise

Budget 2024 was framed against a backdrop of global economic and geopolitical “uncertainty”, Minister for Finance Michael McGrath said, as he announced a €14 billion package on Tuesday.

Mr McGrath said that while the Irish economy is in “a strong position today”, he was “all too aware” of the potential risks that could materialise from global events or sectoral shocks.

Addressing a packed Dáil chamber, the Minister said the budget marked a “step change” for the Coalition by putting in place “a long-term plan that will make the economic future safer for all”.

“The outlook for the global economy has deteriorated,” Mr McGrath said in his first budget speech as Minister for Finance.


“As one of the most economically open countries in the world, international developments have immediate repercussions for Ireland. Our key export markets are experiencing an economic slowdown and this has impacted on our recent export performance.”

Mr McGrath said his department was forecasting tax revenues of €88.3 billion this year, which, for the first time in a number of years, marked “a downward revision” when compared with earlier expectations.

“This is due to lower-than-expected corporation tax receipts which fell sharply in the summer,” he said.

The Minister added that windfall corporation tax receipts now stand at about €10 billion to €12 billion and it was expected that these receipts would be “more modest” next year.

Mr McGrath said the State’s debt was “moving [in] the right direction” and would be below €200 billion by the end of the decade. He said the projections suggested a surplus of €8.8 billion or 3 per cent of gross national income this year, and €8.4 billion or 2.7 per cent next year.

Among the measures included in Budget 2024 are an increase in the minimum wage to €12.70, three energy credits worth €150, tax relief for mortgage holders and small landlords, cuts to childcare and college fees as well as social welfare increases.

Mr McGrath also announced two major initiatives – the Future Ireland Fund, which aims to help protect living standards and public services for current and future generations, and the Infrastructure, Climate and Nature Fund.

Concluding his remarks, Mr McGrath said the budget would provide help to households and businesses and reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to “good quality public services and to investment in modern infrastructure”.

“It seeks to unlock the further potential in the enterprise sector, it underpins our determination to tackle climate change and the budget seeks to make the future safer for us all,” he said. “We face challenges for sure, but we face them from a position of strength, and we face them together.”

Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said the Government had twice in recent years returned the public finances to a surplus and it had decided to set up funds to “make best use” of those funds.

He said he remembered opposition to setting up the “rainy day fund” and that “we know their value now”.

“This economic resilience, the importance of carefully managing our public finances is, at times, a difficult argument to make,” he said. “Making the case for not spending every cent we have has allowed the Government to help – last year when prices began to rise and it will allow us to help again as the cost of living is still a challenge for so many.”

Mr Donohoe said that while inflation and energy bills were beginning to fall, the Government was conscious that many were concerned with rising costs and “particularly the challenge of lighting and heating their homes this winter”.

“This budget provides an immediate and substantial response across 2023 and 2024. Our supports are also targeted to those who need them the most – to older persons, to households with young people and to those with a disability,” he said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times