Noonan: 'another milestone'

THE national debt will break through the €90bn mark at around 3pm this afternoon, according to the Fine Gael national debt 'clock' on the party's website.

The clock shows the debt increasing by around €1,000 every 1.4 seconds; by late last night it was heading for €90bn, equating to just over €58,000 per household or around €20,200 per person in the state. The debt has increased four-fold since 2007 when Ireland had one of the lowest debt-to-GDP ratios in the OECD. It is expected to pass the €100bn mark some time next year.

Commenting on the figure, Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan said yesterday it was "another milestone that illustrated the importance of having a government with a budgetary policy that controls debts and restores confidence".

Ireland's debt-to-GDP ratio was 65.6% at the end of last year with projections suggesting it will rise to 86.9% by the end of 2010. The bank bailouts are a big factor but, by the time national debt peaks, they will account for only around a third of the increase. The remaining two-thirds will be because of successive budget deficits of up to €20bn.