Budget 2008 missed opportunity - Doherty
Speaking in the Seanad today on Budget 2008 Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty described government spending priorities as a disappointment and wasted opportunity.
“This is the 11th budget presided over by Fianna Fáil in government. During that time, we have had unprecedented economic growth. Now, however, the Government is warning us to tighten our belts.
“Fianna Fail's pre-election promises were an illusion but also a masterstroke in terms of electoral strategy. It promised the earth, moon and stars but as soon as the votes were cast, it embarked upon a campaign to dampen down expectations by telling voters that many of its promises were no longer realisable.
“This budget represents a missed opportunity. It was a more difficult budget to deliver given the economic circumstances that pertain, but it offered an opportunity to increase the net tax take.
“One way to do this was to harness the natural resources off our coasts that we have been handing over to multinationals. The €51 billion in gas that is expected to be discovered off the west coast could have funded this budget. European states such as Norway and other countries throughout the world use their natural resources to generate wealth that is invested in education, health and social infrastructure for the benefit of the people. It is a shame the Government did not replicate this stance.
“This budget must be judged on facts rather than Government spin. It should be judged on whether it will lift people out of poverty, ensure an equal distribution of wealth and deliver improvements in public services. The reality is it will not.
“There are positive initiatives in the budget but no major increases in resource allocations. An increased allocation of €95 million for education will provide only for the extra 13,000 pupils who have come to this country and require a school place next year.
“The increase that has been given to three Ministers is equal to the same increase we gave to 120 pensioners. That demonstrates where the Government's commitment is in this budget. It was not for the most vulnerable or the weakest in society. We could have done much more and it is a missed opportunity.” CRÍOCH