Rome - Italy's public debt fell under 2 trillion euros (2.7 trillion dollars) at the end of 2012, but was still 81.5 billion euros higher compared to the previous year, the country's central bank said Friday.

The eurozone's third-largest economy runs relatively small deficits in its annual accounts, but the pile of debts it has accumulated over the years, worth over 125 per cent of gross domestic product, is one of the world's largest.

When debt shot above the record 2-trillion-mark in October and November, critics of outgoing prime minister Mario Monti said his tough austerity measures had failed to cure the country's finances.

The Bank of Italy said that as of December 31, 2012, general government debt stood at 1,988 trillion euros, but stressed that “more than one third” of its increase during the previous 12 months was due to bailout payments to other eurozone countries.

Over 2010-2012, Italy contributed 42.7 billion euros to the financial assistance packages for Greece, Ireland and Portugal, the central bank said.

Monti was shown to have succeeded in reducing government borrowing requirements: excluding bailout payments and one-off entries from privatizations, they fell to 44.3 billion euros in 2012, down from 55.5 billion euros in 2011.

At the same time, tax receipts rose to 409.7 billion euros, a year-on-year increase of 1.7 per cent. - Sapa-dpa