The Taoiseach has told the Dáil that more Government spending cuts and/or higher taxes will be announced before the end of the month.

Brian Cowen said the measures would be announced to plug the growing gap in the public finances.

He said that by the end of March the Government will come up with whatever measures are necessary to keep the deficit on target, whether by spending cuts or raising taxes.

He said the Government would take whatever steps are needed to ensure that the framework set out will be adhered to.

Brian Cowen was responding to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who asked what decisions the Government had made in response to today's Exchequer figures.

Figures from the Department of Finance showed an Exchequer deficit of just over €2bn for the first two months of the year as tax revenues continued to fall.

Tax receipts for the first two months were €5.76bn, compared with €7.56bn in the same period last year, a fall of 24%.

VAT receipts were 17% lower at just under €2.25bn, while income tax was more than 7% down at just over €2bn.

The Government said earlier this year that it expected tax receipts this year to fall by around 10% from 2008.

Mr Kenny said that what is needed is a Budget that is fair, that is comprehensive, and that covers all the sectors of the economy.

According to the terms of an amendment to a motion to be proposed in the Dáil tonight, the Government made the decision to bring in new measures by the end of March at this morning's Cabinet meeting.

Earlier, Green Party Senator Dan Boyle told the Seanad that if tax receipts deteriorate any further, the Government could introduce a new Budget and a new Finance Bill.

He said it was hoped the fall in November and December's Exchequer returns had been corrected but he said if it had not, the Government had the option of introducing new measures.

See the texts of the Motion and Amendment to be debated in the Dáil tonight