Dáil must be reconvened to develop economic strategy – Morgan
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD, speaking in response to the publication of exchequer figures for 2008 today, which showed an €8.1 billion tax shortfall, has called for the Dáil to be convened at the earliest possible opportunity to develop a comprehensive strategy to bring us out of the current downturn.
Deputy Morgan said the Government must bring forward a comprehensive job creation strategy which includes a labour intensive programme to build public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. He said the Government should not simply take an axe to public services in order to cover this shortfall.
Deputy Morgan said, "Once again the forecast of the Department of Finance is way off the mark. During the boom years the Department underestimated tax revenue whereas now the Department has completely overestimated end-of-year returns as the country's public finances lie in ruins with an overall exchequer deficit of €12.7 billion.
"There are questions marks over why the Department predicted a tax shortfall of €6.5 billion at the time of the Budget when all the available data indicated that the shortfall could be as high as €8 billion. A more cautious approach would have been better than the woeful optimism that both the Government and Department of Finance have so far shown. The system for forecasting key budgetary data, especially tax revenue and economic activity, must be reviewed.
"Sinn Féin is calling on the Government to reconvene the Dáil at the earliest possible date to discuss the exchequer returns and develop a comprehensive strategy to bring us out of the current downturn. Such a strategy must include a job creation strategy in order to increase the tax take. This should be led by a labour intensive programme to build public infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. There also needs to be a review of the tax system to ensure everybody pays a fair and proportionate amount.
"What we really do not need at this time is a knee-jerk reaction from the Government which sees them taking the axe to essential public services.
"We are still waiting for the Government to show real leadership and bring forward positive and imaginative proposals to take us forward." ENDS