Taoiseach says that exchequer finances are under pressure as a result of the global economic slowdown.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern points out that exchequer revenue for the year had been expected to be around 12 per cent when in fact it will be between just two and three per cent. This difference equates to around £2 billion. This downturn in the economy means that there is less money around and this will be reflected in next week's budget announcement.

The Taoiseach was speaking at the unveiling of a plaque on Prince's Street, just off O'Connell Street in Dublin, where the inaugural meeting of the Fianna Fáil party took place. The event marked 75 years of the political party.

I think this budget is a bit more predictable than usual.

The Fine Gael finance spokesperson Jim Mitchell said that the economic downturn could not be blamed for everything and said that the Book of Estimates was flawed and incomplete. Jim Mitchell says he is seeking a meeting with the Department of Finance for clarification ahead of budget day.

Official estimates show that the government will have to borrow £516 million while at the same time plans to spend an extra £468 million.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 2 December 2001. The reporter is Teresa Mannion.