So 2013 Budget will be expected to deliver 'cuts' and 'revenue measures' to bring fiscal stance €3.5 billion closer (or so the claim goes) to the balance. Which prompted the Eamon Gilmore to utter this:
"It is the budget that is going to get us to 85% of the adjustment that has to be made, and will therefore put the end in sight for these types of measures and these types of budgets".
Right. €3.5 billion will be added to the annual coffers on expectation side comes tomorrow. €3 billion will be subtracted on actual side comes March 2013 for the ritual burning of the promo notes repayments, and IL&P - the insolvent zombie bank owned by the state - will repay €2.45 billion worth of bonds using Government money comes second week of January. I guess, something is in sight, while something is a certainty-equivalent. €3.5 billion 'adjustments' vs €5.5 billion bonfire.
Six years into this shambolic 'austerity heroism' and we are, where we are:
- On expectations forward, the Government will still have fiscal deficit of 7.5% of GDP in the end of 2013, should Gilmore's 'end in sight' hopes materialise. That is set off against pre-banks measures deficit of 7.3% in 2008. In fact, the 'end' will not be in sight even into 2017, when the IMF forecasts Irish Government deficit to be -1.8% - well within the EU 3% bounds, but still consistent with Government overspending compared to revenues.
- Overall Government balance ex-banks supports in Ireland in 2012 will stand around 8.3% of GDP. In 2013 it is expected to hit 7.5% of GDP. The peak of insolvency was 11.5% of GDP in 2009, which means that by 2013 end we have closed 4 percentage points of GDP in fiscal deficits out of 8.5 percentage points adjustment required for 2009-2015 period. In Mr Gilmore's terms, we would have traveled not 85% of the road, but 47% of the road.
But wait, there's more. Here's a snapshot of the latest Exchequer returns for January-November 2012:
- Government tax revenue has fell 0.5% below the target with the shortfall of €171 million and although tax revenues were €1.96 billion ahead of same period (January-November) 2011, stripping out reclassifications of USC and the delayed tax receipts from 2011 carried over to 2012, this year tax receipts are running up 4.5% year on year.
- Keep in mind that target refers not to the Budget 2012 targets, but to revised targets of April 2012.
- Meanwhile, Net Voted Government Expenditure came in at 0.6% above target.
- So in a sum, on annualized basis, expenditure running 1.03% ahead of projections and revenue is running 0.86% below target. All of the sudden, the case of 'best boy in class' starts to look silly.
- Total Net Voted Expenditure came in at €40,635 million in 11 months through November 2012, which is €26 million above last year's, and is 0.6% ahead of target set out in April. In other words, Ireland's heroic efforts to contain runaway public sector costs have yielded savings of €26 million in 11 months through November 2012.
- All of the net savings relative to target came in from the Capital side of expenditure, which is 20.5% below t2011 levels(-€629 million). Now, full year target savings on capital side are €562 million, which means that capital spending cuts have already overcompensated the expenditure cuts by €67 million.
- On current expenditure side things are much worse. Relative to target, current spending is running at +1.7% (excess of €654 million). It was supposed to run at -1.6% reduction compared to 2011 for the full year 2012, but is currently running at +1.6% compared to Jan-Nov 2011. The swing is over €1.2 billion of overspend.
- Recall that in 2011 Irish Government expropriated €470 million worth of pensions funds through the 0.6% pensions levy in order to fund its glamorous Jobs Initiative. It now has cut €629 million from capital spending budget or €405 million more than it planned. In effect, thus, the entire pensions grab went to fund not Jobs Initiative, but current spending by the state.
- The savage austerity this Government allegedly unleashed saved on the net €26 million in 11 months. Pathetic does not even begin to describe this policy of destroying the future of the economy to achieve effectively absolutely nothing in terms of structural adjustments.
- The overspend took place, predictably, and at least to some extent justifiably by Health and Social Welfare. However, two other departments have posted excess spending compared to the target: Public Expenditure & Shambles-- err Reforms -- posted excess spending overall, while Transport, Tourism and Sport has managed to overspend on the current spending side of things.
Laughable as this sounds, stripping out carry over revenues from 2011, the deficit on current side of the Exchequer finances was €9.45 billion in 2011 and that rose to €9.97 billion in 2012. Which means that the actual current account deficit is not falling, but rising.
Now, let's control for banks measures:
- In 2011 Irish state spent €2.3 billion bailing out IL&P, plus €3.085bn repaying promo notes for IBRC and €5.268bn on banks recaps. Total banks contribution to the deficit was thus €10.653 billion, This implies that overall general government deficit ex-banks was €10.716 billion in 2011.
- In 2012 we spent €1.3 billion propping up again IL&P (this time - its remnants) which implies ex-banks measures deficit of €11.668bn
- Wait a second, you shall shout at this point in time - 2012 ex-banks deficit is actually worse, not better than 2011 one. And you shall be right. There are some small items around, like our propping up Quinn Insurance fallout cost us €449.8mln in 2012 and only €280mln in 2011. We also paid €509.5 million (that's right - almost the amount the Government hopes to raise from the Property Tax in 2013) on buying shares in ESM - the fund that we were supposedly desperately needed access to during the Government campaign for Fiscal Compact Referendum, but nowadays no longer will require, since we are 'regaining access to the markets'. We also received €1.018 billion worth of cash from our sale of Bank of Ireland shares in 2011 that we did not repeat on receipts side in 2012. And more... but in the end, when all reckoned and counted for, there is effectively no real deficit reduction. Nothing dramatic happened, folks. The austerity fairy flew by and left not a trace, but few sparkles in the sky.
- Aside note - pittance, but hurtful. In 2012 Department for Finance estimates total Irish contributions to the EU Budget will run at €1.39 billion gross. For 2013 the estimate is €1.444 billion. That is a rise of €59 million. Put this into perspective - currently, the Government has run away from its previous commitment to provide ringfenced beds for acute care patients at risk of infections, e.g. those suffering from Cystic Fibrosis. I bet €59 million EU is insisting this insolvent Government must wrestle out of the economy to pay Brussels would go some way fixing the issue.
In the mean time, our interest payments on debt have been steadily accelerating. In January-November 2011 our debt servicing cost us €3.866 billion. This year over the same period of time we spent €5.659 billion plus change on same. Uplift of 46.4% in one year alone.
So here you have it, folks. This Government has an option: bring Irish debt into ESM, for which we paid the entrance fees, and avail of cheap rates. Go into the markets and raise the cost of funding our overall debt even higher - from €6.17bn annual running cost in 2012 to what? Oh, dofF projects 2013 cost to be €8.11 billion - a swing of additional €1.94 billion. So over two years 2012 and 2013, Irish debt servicing costs would have risen by €3.89 billion swallowing more than 1/2 of all fiscal 'adjustments' to be delivered over the same two years.
At this stage, there is really no longer any point of going on. No matter what this Government says tomorrow, no matter what Mr Gilmore can see in his hazed existence on his Ministerial cloud cuckoo, real figures show that Europe's 'best boy in class' is slipping into economic coma.