Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said this year’s Budget adjustment will be significantly less than the €2.1bn forecast at the start of the year.

He was speaking after publication of exchequer return figures for last month, which show the amount of tax collected by the State was running almost €1bn ahead of target.

The figures show that in the first eight months of the year the State collected just short of €25bn in taxes, 4.1% or almost €1bn ahead of target.

In a statement, Mr Noonan said the figures were strong and a sign of a growing economy.

He said it was clear the level of adjustment through tax and expenditure cuts required to achieve a budget deficit of less than 3% this will be significantly less than forecast at the start of the year.

However, he warned against the idea of a giveaway budget, saying the State continues to borrow an average of €800m a month.

This has resulted in a budget deficit of €6.3bn for the first eight months of the year.

Although this is €1.3bn better than targeted at the start of the year, Mr Noonan said it was still too high and had to be further reduced.

Tánaiste Joan Burton has described the exchequer figures as "very positive".

She also said that there was evidence of increasing numbers of people in employment and starting their own business.

Ms Burton said the landscape for the upcoming budget is far easier than in the case of the three previous budgets.

However, she warned that we need to be careful not to raise expectations unrealistically in terms of the budget, but to look to build on the economy strengths, so that sustainable prosperity and fairness can be provided.

She also added that no decisions have been made in relation to expenditure.