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Sinn Féin launches Budget 2008 Priorities Document

29 November, 2007

Sinn Féin TD and Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan today launched the party's Budget Priorities for 2008. Deputy Morgan takes over the portfolio from party Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. Deputy Morgan has extensive experience in the business sector.

During today's media briefing Arthur Morgan outlined Sinn Féin's priorities within the framework of Sustaining and Sharing Economic Prosperity.

Deputy Morgan said:

"A prosperous economy needs solid foundations. This requires communications and transport infrastructure, high quality accessible public services, strong social protections and a highly skilled educated workforce. However all of the latter can only be achieved if government maintains healthy public finances.

"Sinn Féin was the only party which argued in the run up to the election that, with the slow down in economic growth, government could not afford to cut taxes and maintain public services and economic growth.

"Sinn Féin is conscious of the impact of the changing economic climate internationally which is characterised by rising oil prices, the declining value of the dollar and an international credit crunch. We face increasing competition from low wage economies in the accession states and in the middle and Far East. Ireland as a whole continues to suffer from significant infrastructure deficits and lags behind other states in terms of Research and Development capacity within enterprise while the level of engagement of workers in upskilling and re-training remains low.

"Government must proactively plan to meet future challenges to the economy - planning and preparation for public services, the infrastructure and the skills that will be needed in the years ahead. Sinn Féin intends to closely monitor the government to ensure that in future prosperity which is created is in turn shared, something that failed to be done to any great extent over the last decade.

"At present there are a number of anomalies in the social welfare system and in respect of other entitlements that act as barriers to people who are seeking to move from the welfare system in to paid employment. Sinn Féin proposals include tackling the illiteracy crisis and ensuring proper childcare facilities are accessible to all parents.

"Encouraging the creation of new jobs is a key government task. It involves a huge financial commitment and co-ordination of activities across multiple government departments that control an element of spending that is either focussed on job creation or economic development. Sinn Féin proposes a cross departmental review of all enterprise and employment spending to ensure best value for the billons invested annually in job creation and economic development." CRÍOCH

Sinn Féin Budget 2008 Priorities include:

- A targeted and funded strategy to pre-emptively up-skill workers vulnerable to future job-losses following an assessment of sectors and geographic regions likely to experience job losses

- An examination and expansion of the role of FÁS. They need to change their approach to job training to meet new demands

- A comprehensive state-wide school meals programme for all 875 schools identified as disadvantaged under the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) action plan to provide both nutritional breakfasts and lunches to students five days a week

- Allow people claiming the non contributory old age pension to be allowed earn up to &euro200 per week without it affecting their entitlements to be extended to include farmers drawing the pension

- Provide the resources to reduce all class sizes for children under 9 years of age to a maximum of 20 pupils [Cost: &euro174 million]

- Provide the resources to implement the recommendations of the Report of the Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation published in May of this year (&euro14 million in 2008, &euro30 million in 2009)

- Minimum wage should be set to 60% of the average industrial wage as agreed by government

- Proceed with the removal of the PRSI ceiling [The abolition of the PRSI ceiling would put an additional &euro295 million to the Social Insurance Fund]

- That the NTMA be given the task of funding government capital spending through long term borrowing within the EU Growth and Stability pact, thus freeing up substantial savings in yearly spending by the government

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