The ESRI released a report on the state of the economy last week. The overall figures that were produced are in marked contrast to the forecast produced by the Government only two weeks ago. In every single case they are more pessimistic than the figures produced by the Government. I do not refer to the growth rate alone but also to employment, housing and many other figures which are benchmarked figures for the economy. This is what I told the Seanad last week:
Given that the ESRI has produced figures which are pessimistic compared with what we received from the political sources, one wonders, not necessarily whether the books have been cooked, but whether they have been pushed in a certain direction for the sake of the budget just two weeks ago and which will have to be revised quickly. That is quite dangerous.
It is dangerous for us because if the Department of Finance is not producing accurate figures, one wonders whether the budget will need to be revised shortly in the Finance Bill. Perhaps the Leader of the House can ask the Minister for Finance to revise his figures early in the new year and inform the House whether he stands by his budget figures which are cast in considerable doubt by the ESRI this morning.