The Government has decided to introduce next year's Budget six weeks early, on October 14, in response to the economic challenges facing the public finances.
In a statement, the Government said the move would indicate changes to spending plans in the light of expected tax revenues, and would give 'clarity and confidence to investors and taxpayers alike'.
The statement said the Government would prioritise capital spending within the National Development Plan to boost confidence in the underlying strength of the economy. It said the Government would also aim to protect the environment and build sustainable competitiveness in the economy as a whole.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said he would use the early introduction of the Budget to set out the steps he proposed to take to stabilise and restore balance to the public finances.
The Government statement said the country was now facing 'an unprecedented set of unfavourable international factors', including turbulence on financial markets, weaker economic growth, currency movements and sharp rises in oil and other commodity prices.
It said these - along with the slump in the construction sector at home - were placing the economy under considerable pressure.
'In addition, the slowdown has resulted in a rapid deterioration in the public finances and falling consumer confidence,' the statement said.