The government recorded a surplus of 300 million euros in the first three months of the year, down from the surplus of 4.1 billion euros recorded in the last quarter of 2021.
Despite the decline, the figures for the first quarter of 2022 show a marked improvement compared to the same quarter of last year, when a deficit of 6.4 billion euros was recorded.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that the improvement was mainly attributed to an increase in tax revenue (up €4 billion), while spending fell by €1.7 billion in due to cuts in social benefits.
Government expenditure for Covid-19 measures saw a sharp reduction between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, falling from 2.5 billion euros to 1.5 billion euros.
The main elements of these expenditures were:
- €700 million on the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)
- 200 million euros on unemployment benefit in the event of a pandemic (PUP)
- 100 million euros on the Covid-19 Improved Sickness Allowance
- 400 million euros on health expenditure linked to Covid-19
Gross government debt stood at 234.9 billion euros at the end of March, slightly down from 235.8 billion euros at the end of December, while net debt increased slightly by 192.3 billion euros to 193.1 billion euros over the same period.
Figures also show that the market value of state assets in equity and investment fund shares fell by 200 million euros in the first three months of the year, now standing at 34.8 billion euros.
The CSO said the drop in equity holdings in the first quarter was largely explained by the sale of Bank of Ireland shares, while the government’s debt to small savings schemes, the fact that mainly households continue to invest in such initiatives, increased by 308 billion euros.