There is a “moral aspect” to not spending the budget surplus on reducing homelessness, Paschal Donohoe has said.
Economists have forecast a €10 billion surplus this year, thanks to surging corporation tax receipts, and next year it will rise to €16 billion.
At the same time, 11,988 people were accessing emergency accommodation in March - the highest number since records began.
Included among the figures were 3,472 children under the age of 18 and 871 rough sleepers.
When asked about the morality of the situation, the Minister for Public Expenditure said the State was thinking long-term.
“The reason why there is a case for running surpluses is also to be conscious of our responsibility to future generations,” he said.
“That also has a moral aspect to it; that also has an aspect of being aware that those who are yet to come… I want to ensure that the public services that they receive in the future are not reduced because the debt of this country is too high.”
The Minister also said the Government was keeping an eye out for companies who are “profiteering” from high levels of inflation.
“The Government will monitor very carefully any risks or signs that any part of our economy is profiteering from levels of inflation,” he said.
In February, inflation in Ireland dropped to 8% - down from a peak of 9.6% in July last year.
The Central Bank of Ireland has forecast it will “continue on a downward trajectory over the forecast horizon.”
Main image: Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath