Ireland’s national debt is set to hit $248 billion (€173billion)  by the end of 2011 according to Bank of Ireland chief economist Dan McLaughlin.

On Friday the Irish bank’s economic research unit published its monthly review of international and Irish markets.

McLaughlin said that Ireland’s gross national debt stood at $157billion (€110billion) at the end of 2010, $129 billion  (€90billion) represented by Government bonds.

"The net figure, which takes off cash balances, was $133 billion (€93billion), and it is this figure, further adjusted for liquid assets held by the National Pension Fund, which the IMF monitors as part of the current Irish programme.

"The EU prefers a broader definition of sovereign debt, however, called general government debt, and on that measure the Irish figure amounted to $212 billion (€148billion) or 96% of GDP, with the difference largely due to the $44 billion (€31billion) promissory notes for the state-owned banks," he said

The economist pointed out that the Department of Finance had predicted Ireland’s debt ratio to rise to 99percent this year and to peak at 103 percent in 2013, but now the forecasts say 111percent, rising to 118 percent.

"In cash terms, the debt total is forecast to end the year at $247 billion (€173billon), or $35 billion (€25billion) higher than 2010, reflecting the Budget deficit and some €10bn to cover the costs of additional bank recapitalisations," he said.

These figures represents  every person in the State owing $55,470 (€38,696).
McLaughlin pointed out that Ireland’s debt ratio is now above the Eurozone norm of 85 percent and that several other European countries had also witnessed a substantial increase in debt.

"Germany’s ratio has risen from 65% to 83% in the past four years," he said.
Recent developments mean that Ireland’s debt burden may now peak at a higher level.

"The level of GDP over the next few years is now expected to be lower than previously thought, and forecasts for real economic growth have also been revised down for this year and next.

"The department has halved its 2011 growth forecast to 0.8% (and as such now similar to our own 0.5%) and expects 2.5% next year, from an original 3.2%.

"The net result is that the general government deficit this year is now expected to be higher than projected last December, at 10% of GDP, instead of 9.4%, with the 2012 deficit also revised up, to 8.6% from 7.3%," he said.

Ireland’s national debt is set to hit $248 billion by end of 2011