Minister of State at the Department of Finance Brian Hayes has said the Government has almost reached the limit of how much taxation it will impose on the public.

In the wake of three years of spending cuts and new tax measures, Mr Hayes said the focus would now be on policies such as public sector reform to achieve the remaining savings required under the bailout programme.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said: "I think we've reached virtually the end of the income taxation side, on the basis that 40% of all the taxes we take in are on the income side.

"If we are going to get into a better position in terms of the domestic economy, in trying to ensure that we get greater growth within the domestic economy, we can't tax the hell out of people."

He said that 85% of the spending adjustment measures had now been completed, and it was the view of the Government that most of the taxation measures for the life of the Dáil have been taken.

He reiterated that it was the Coalition's ambition that there would be no increase in income tax in the life of the Government.

Commenting on the Exchequer figures for December, which were better than had been anticipated, Mr Hayes said Ireland was definitely on target to exit the bailout programme by the end of this year.

"We were told this time last year we wouldn't be able to raise any money on the international bond markets in 2012, but we've raised nearly €8 billion.

"We've been told this time last year there was no prospect of Ireland coming out of the bailout programme - all of the indicators would show that we are going to exit the programme and return to the financial markets," he said.

"We're not getting carried away with ourselves here.

"The reality is this, that we face a difficult deficit position - for every €130 we're spending, we're still only taking in €100. We've got to close that gap over a period of years, but we're making significant progress," he said.