DUBLIN, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Ireland's Finance Ministry said on Wednesday it expected its budget deficit to be around 0.9 percent in 2016, in line with the last official forecast in October but weaker than Finance Minister Michael Noonan suggested in comments last month.
"Budget 2017 forecast a General Government Deficit for 2016 of 0.9 percent of GDP. The exchequer figures for end-2016, released today, support that forecast," the ministry said in a statement. The 2015 deficit was 1.9 percent.
Noonan last month told journalists that the deficit could fall as low as 0.7 or 0.8 percent if tax receipts were strong enough, but December's tax returns published earlier on Wednesday were weaker than forecast. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Alison Williams)