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Challenges ahead for Lenihan in Finance - Morgan

7 May, 2008

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Arthur Morgan TD congratulated Brian Lenihan on his appointment as Minister for Finance. He expressed his hope that Minister Lenihan would take a more hands on approach to economic management than his predecessors and would prioritise ensuring public finances were adequate to fund essential public services.

Deputy Morgan called on the incoming Minister for Finance to drop government plans contained in the Programme for Government to cut taxes.

He said, "I congratulate Brian Lenihan on his appointment as Minister for Finance. I hope that his appointment will be a catalyst for a change in Government approach to the management of the economy and that he will adopt a more hands on approach to tackling the economic challenges which we now face.

"Brian Cowen has, in some senses, handed his successor in the Department of Finance a poison chalice. Public finances have deteriorated dramatically. Brian Cowen failed to ensure public finances remained healthy and he failed to ensure the economy was based on stable and sustainable foundations. Under Cowen the economy was allowed to become unsustainable as economic growth over the last five years has become driven by domestic consumption rather than by exports or trade.

"Brian Lenihan faces a number of key challenges as he enters the Department of Finance. I hope that his lack of experience in an economic portfolio will not overly impede him in meeting these challenges.

"These challenges include the fact that tax revenue is well below projections. €927 million or 6.5 per cent less in tax revenue was collected during the first four months of 2008 than in 2007. In this context Sinn Féin wants to see Minister Lenihan clearly state that he will not precede with the tax cuts proposed in the Programme for Government.

"Above all we want to see him outline how he intends to ensure that public finances are adequate to pay for essential public services.

"I would urge the incoming Minister not to engage in the practice of some previous Ministers for Finance of using the excuse of tightening public finances to make cut backs in public services. In December's Budget he must prioritise those on low and middle incomes who are under pressure from rising inflation and a downward pressure on wages." ENDS

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