The Irish economy is still in deep crisis, the recession is far from over and Irish society is suffering. Last February, Fine Gael and Labour promised ‘new government, new policies’. Instead they are delivering Fianna Fáil policies with the same devastating consequences. Since 2009, €20.6 billion has been taken out of the economy in an attempt to close the deficit. It has not worked. Government policies are depressing the domestic economy, reflected in lower tax receipts and higher social welfare costs.
Nearly half a million people are unemployed. 210,000 ESB and Bord Gais customers are in arrears. Young people are leaving our shores. Tens of thousands of construction workers are without work when we could be using their skills. One hundred thousand households are in mortgage distress. Families are in despair. Economic sovereignty is being given away. The Fine Gael Labour Government is living in a bubble – cut off from the social consequences of the decisions it takes.
We are a divided society – a society of haves and have-nots, of those who have wealth and those on the breadline. Of those who created the economic crisis and those who are being forced to pay the price for it. The decision makers have still not got the message. There may have been a change of government but the new Government is prepared to unleash on the Irish people a Budget that will have negative and far reaching consequences for ordinary working families and for the poor.
Further devastating cuts to vital services and social supports are about to be visited upon this society, causing more inequality and social problems, and further depressing the economy.
There are powerful groups and individuals in this state whose sole interest is to protect the status quo. We just have to look at the priorities of the Fine Gael / Labour Government and the previous Fianna Fáil-led government and see who they are asking to bear the brunt of this recession.
They have implemented:
- Cutbacks in special needs education.
- Cuts to Carer’s Allowance and Carer’s Benefit and to the home help services.
- Cuts to those reliant on social welfare - cuts to the Household Benefits Package which providesa range of assistance for pensioners, carers and people with disabilities.
- Cuts to homelessness services of 10%.
- Attacks on low and middle income earners – family stealth taxes, household charges, water charges, the Universal Social Charge and cost of living increases.
- Exorbitant salaries for Government appointees – some paid five times the average industrial wage (€168,000 awarded to senior Government advisors breaking the Government’s own salary cap).
- Massive salaries and pensions – The new ESB Chief awarded a salary over 30% in excess of the Government’s own pay ceiling for commercial semi-states. 14 senior executives in the NTMA paid more than a quarter of a million euro per annum.
They have also failed to re-negotiate the
EU/IMF deal and are complicit in handing away economic as well as
political sovereignty. Meanwhile, they continue to use taxpayers’ money
to pay private bank bondholders. On 2 November €715
million was paid to an unguaranteed, unsecured bondholder in Anglo. A further €1.25 billion will be paid to another unguaranteed, unsecured Anglo bondholder in January.
Fianna Fáil will not fix the economy. It will further depress the economy – taking more money out of circulation, closing viable businesses, increasing unemployment and putting families and whole communities below the breadline. This comes down to political choices. You can choose to pay €715 million to an unguaranteed bondholder in Anglo or you can choose to protect families, low earners, public services and Irish businesses.
Sinn Féin’s economic alternative
this pre-budget submission the political choices Sinn Féin makes are
about achieving a far fairer yet still successful route to recovery.
Sinn Féin’s plan is about growing the economy to a sustainable recovery,
making sure the most vulnerable are
protected, that those who can afford to contribute more are asked to do so, and bringing a level of equality not seen in this state.
- Invest €7 billion in job creation and economic growth over the next three years including using semi-states as a driver for recovery. This proposal would benefit almost 200,000 people.
- Close the deficit between 2012 and 2016
beginning with €3.5 billion this year. The Government is making an
adjustment of €3.8 billion, but claims €600 million of this will be
carried over from last year, so €3.2 billion of this is new measures. We
are targeting €3.5 billion to allow for the impact that some measures will have against others. This, combined with our stimulus would bring the deficit down to approximately 8.3% of GDP. We achieve €3.5 billion by reducing the tax burden on low to middle income families, increasing taxes and removing loopholes for higher earners, as well as spending savings.
- End wasteful spending beginning with €1 billion in savings this year through a range of measures including capping all public sector wages at €100,000, reducing professional fees by 25% and ending the practice of providing medical care for private patients in public beds.
- Our tax to savings ratio is 3-1.
- Support working families and the most vulnerable – abolish the USC and invest in a household stimulus package to help those struggling to survive. Abolishing the USC will benefit half a million people by taking them back out of the tax net.
- Maintain social welfare levels and oppose the introduction of student fees, household and water charges.
- Ease the recruitment embargo in the public sector to hire nurses, teachers, SNAs and Gardaí.
- Tackle the debt crisis - Irish debt levels are unsustainable. A Europe-wide solution is needed to deal with the debt problem. As a first step, private bank debt and sovereign debt must be separated and the Anglo promissory notes, which will cost €74 billion over the next 20 years, should not be paid.
- Stand up for Ireland and negotiate a new EU/IMF deal.