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Government failed to plan on realistic assessment of economy – Doherty

14 May, 2008

Speaking during a Seanad debate on the economy today Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty the impacts of the economic slow down and the rising cost of living are beginning to be felt by people across the state.

Senator Doherty said, "Many of those who borrowed heavily when house prices were at their highest face an uncertain future due to falling house prices and high mortgage interest rates. Low paid workers are struggling in the face of rising food and fuel prices while at the same time there is a downward pressure on their wages

"This Government should have planned ahead based on a realistic assessment of the vulnerabilities in the economy. It should have then taken pre-emptive action to ensure that the impact of any slowdown domestically or internationally was minimized. The vulnerabilities in the Irish Economy were quiet clear for many years and indeed were highlighted by my party and by economic commentators.

"There was also a drip drip of job losses in manufacturing in regional towns that was not met with any action to create alternative employment in their place. The Government failed to take on board what economic analysts were projecting in terms of the slowdown of economic growth and what officials in the Department if Finance were warning in regard to the reliance of the exchequer on revenue from construction and property. It failed to take any action to put the economy on a sustainable footing.

"The Government must now tackle issues such as the growing number of unemployed, the rising cost of living, the dangers of negative equity and rising mortgage interest rates and the fact that tax revenue is falling well behind projections.

"Sinn Féin is calling for:

· A concerted effort on retraining and upskilling of low skilled and vulnerable workers

· A focus on creating jobs in regional towns hit badly by jobs losses - including through increased support for indigenous enterprises.

· A focus on regaining competitiveness

· A change in Government policies, including stealth taxes, that lead to an increase in the cost of living

· The dropping of tax cuts which are clearly unviable and undermine the state's ability fund public services

· There needs to be a focus on growing exports particular to other EU states where exporters do not face the uncertainties associated with exchange rates that they do when exporting to Britain and the USA." ENDS

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