Ireland may need to borrow 'north of 20 billion' euros in 2021 - Varadkar

FILE PHOTO: Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar arrives for the second day of the European Union leaders summit, held to discuss the EU's long-term budget for 2021-2027, in Brussels, Belgium, February 21, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland may need to borrow “north of 20 billion” euros ($23.5 billion) next year as it grapples with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar was quoted as saying on Thursday.

“Does it require substantial borrowing from the government? Yes it does. 20 billion this year. Probably north of 20 billion next year,” Varadkar told online publication The Currency in an interview.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe last month forecast a 2021 budget deficit of 4.5% to 5.5%, equating to cash borrowing in the region of 15-19 billion euros, but said measures announced in the Oct. 13 budget could push that higher.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Jason Neely