March 12, 2020 / 10:17 AM / 22 days ago

CORRECTED-Coronavirus could push Ireland into budget deficit - minister

(Corrects year in first paragraph of budget surplus forecast to 2020 from 2019)

DUBLIN, March 12 (Reuters) - The 3 billion euros Ireland set aside this week to tackle the coronavirus will use up the 0.7% of gross domestic product budget surplus forecast for 2020, and could tip the exchequer back into deficit, its finance minister said on Thursday.

“It is the case that the kind of surplus that we are now on track to deliver for 2020 - all of that is now going to be used, and potentially more, to help us to respond back to this public health challenge,” Paschal Donohoe told Clare FM radio.

“They (the public finances) will be compromised by this but the whole point of having a surplus in the first place is then using that surplus when you need it. We did not anticipate that this is what the surplus would be used for.” (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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