Pushed by drastically increased public spending and a record-setting economic slowdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy’s national debt ratio surged last year, reaching 155.6 per cent of the country’s GDP, authorities said.

Data issued on Tuesday by the country’s National Statistics Institute (ISTAT) revealed that the national debt in 2020 totalled 2.57 trillion euros ($3 trillion), Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the data, the economy was worth 1.65 trillion euros.

In 2019 the debt ratio was 134.6 per cent of the GDP.

Before the pandemic, Italy’s debt ratio was the second-highest in the European Union, trailing only Greece.

The highest-ever debt ratio in Italy was registered in 2015, at 135.3 per cent of the GDP, according to ISTAT data.

Still, despite the big increase in the ratio, it is on the low end of the estimates from economists nearly a year ago, when predictions were that the national debt would swell to 155 per cent to 159 per cent of the GDP.

According to models from the data firm Statista, Italy’s debt ratio is expected to drop this year and in future years, though the models showed that it would still stay above 150 per cent of the country’s GDP until at least 2025.