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Sinn Féin launch budget proposals to tackle inequality and poverty

20 November, 2003

Launching the party's proposals for Budget 2004 Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin called on the Government to move away from the outmoded model of annual budgeting and towards multi-annual budgeting based on long-term planning.

Announcing details of Sinn Féin's pre-budget submission he said that the party's proposals offered measures to tackle inequality and poverty in Irish society.

Speaking at a press conference in Buswells Hotel today he said:

"As we face into Budget 2004 in a fortnight Sinn Féin today launches our alternative programme which looks to this Budget and beyond and sets out the measures we believe will tackle inequality and poverty in Irish society. This is the most detailed Pre-Budget submission yet presented by Sinn Féin. And it goes further because it takes a long-term view and calls for a strategic approach. We are calling for a move away from the outmoded model of annual budgeting and towards multi-annual budgeting based on long-term planning.

"We are issuing a rallying call today to people to Oppose the Cuts and Demand a Fair Budget. Now more than ever, after six years of a Government which has widened the gap between rich and poor in our society, we need to show that it need not have acted in this way. The resources exist in this country to ensure that everyone is cherished in childhood, decently housed, properly educated, cared for when they are ill and treated as equals.

"And we recognise that it is simply not good enough to denounce the cutbacks. We also have to present a real and viable alternative strategy. We set out such a strategy in our document.

Our priorities are:

· Concentration of resources on much needed improvements in health, housing, education, social welfare and public services which enhance the quality of life of all;

· Real reform of these services to ensure equality of access, efficient and effective delivery, to a best practice standard, to ensure true value for money;

· Fundamental review and reform of the tax system to achieve greater equity and increased revenue for improved services; tax reductions for the low paid only; higher taxes for the highest earners in place of stealth taxes which take no account of ability to pay.

"Instead of restructuring our taxation system to bring about greater equity the Government has chosen to introduce stealth taxes which take no account of ability to pay and which penalise those on lower income. Instead of taxing wealth they tax lower earners by stealth.

"The two-tier health system is the classic example of a system which is both inefficient and grossly unfair. The significant increases in health spending over recent years have not been put to best use. This is because the public system is still subsidising the private system massively. We seek the phasing out of the two-tier system to be replaced by a National Health Service with care free at the point of delivery and funded from general taxation. Government policy should be focussed on that goal and in the transition period should be seeking to minimise the inequities and inefficiencies of the system.

"We are calling for the Establishment of a Cabinet Committee on Health to spearhead the phasing in of an Irish National Health Service. The Committee's first task would be to plan the transition, assessing costs and savings in the short, medium and long term and commencing multi-annual budgeting on that basis. " ENDS

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