Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Government targeting low and middle income earners

4 February, 2009

Speaking in the Dáil today during a debate on the governments public finance measures including the inequitable public service pension levy Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD charged the Taoiseach with causing irreparable damage to the public's confidence in his government.

The Louth TD said:

"The public and everyone on this side of the house were waiting for the Taoiseach to finally deliver a plan to deal with the real problems of our deteriorating economy. It is the economy that is the real problem, and it is through rescuing the economy that we can shore up our finance deficit.

"The unemployment rate is now at 9.2% and if we keep on losing jobs at a rate of 9,000 a week the so called two billion savings that the Government claims to be making will completely evaporate through the increased burden on our social welfare system.

"The Taoiseach had said this morning that it was an "old fashioned approach" to focus on job creation. Well if this is the case then why is it that every other country in the western world is engaged on kick-starting the economy and simply not kicking public sector?

"We are continuing to call for a coherent plan which focuses on job creation, job retention and finding the money to address the increasing national debt through getting the wealthy to pay their fare share.

"What is sickening about the Government's cut back plan is through all the talk of sharing the burden- once again it is our low and medium paid workers who are getting it in the neck.

"It is nurses who will lose €2250 from their salaries and it's Gardaí who will have thousands of euro taken from their incomes. Hard working people will now have to take effectively a pay cut of up to three thousand euro before paying the income levy, health charges and other measures through the actions of this Government

"What makes this even more difficult to accept is that the Brendan Drumms of this world who earn almost half a million euro of tax payers money between their salary and bonuses are continuing to get off scott free and have been allowed to go on wrecking the public service with their privatisation plans.

"The Taoiseach had said in the Dail today that he will seek 25% pay cut for banking directors- well that is the least he could ask for given that we are about to hand them €8 billion of tax payers money to bail them out for their reckless lending. We also still don't know when the beloved directors of Anglo Irish will finally pay back the €179 million of worth of loans that they now owe to the tax payer.

"A 25% cut will still leave our so called world class banking directors with salaries worth millions of euro and whatever about the banking directors nothing has been done about the vast number of public body CEOs who continue to earn up to €500,000 in the case of the ESB.

"It is clear from the Government's pension levy plan that the sliding scale in the levy discriminates against lower paid. The higher you go up the scale the smaller the increases in the levy become. And this does not include the fact that the high earners in the public sector will be able to claim most of this money back in tax relief for their pensions.

"In our pre-budget submission we had made the point that the government should have a standard rate relief which would have yielded almost a billion euro. They have continued to ignore on this and instead focused solely on cut backs.

"But apart from taxation and salaries of public sector CEOs we accept that there a number of other areas where tax payers money is being wasted. By ending subsidies to private companies operating in our public services huge savings could be made.

"But it is job creation that increases revenue and not cut backs.

"Governments approach must change. We need to see the frontloading of critical infrastructure projects. We need the fast tracking of business start-ups. We need to grow our indigenous export market. We need to develop and support a truly innovative culture. We need to rebuild the Irish economy.

"The Taoiseach will have to reengage and the Taoiseach will have to finally start listening." ENDS

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