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Government must bring forward new budget for 2009 – Morgan

3 March, 2009


Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has supported a Private Members Motion in the Dáil this evening which calls for a new budget for 2009. Deputy Morgan said the only people who don't seem to understand the need for a new budget are the coalition cabinet and its docile backbench supporters.

Deputy Morgan said, "Who doesn't know that we need a new budget as our public finances deteriorate daily? Who doesn't understand that the absence of effective strategies for job creation, taxation and public finances actively make a difficult trading environment for business become a dire one. Who doesn't know that taking action now is vital and that each day lost is another body blow to a bruised economy?

"It seems that the only people who don't know are the coalition cabinet and the docile back benchers that will upon command tomorrow once more vote en masse to oppose this motion knowing that within it there is that undeniable truth that the Taoiseach has been sitting Nero-like for nearly a year now.

"Do the 1,000 plus jobs lost each day in January not prove the dept of the crisis we face? Unemployment figures for February will come out this week and tell an even more dismal tale.

"But let us not dwell on the negatives of the government's abysmal record and focus instead on the positive forward steps to pull the economy out this coalition-created malaise.

"Does the minister for Finance know that an increase in the income levy to 6% on salaries of €200,000 and over would yield €130 million annually to the exchequer. I trust that he and all the other government ministers who enjoy salaries in this bracket would be more than willing to do their patriotic duty and pay such a levy?

"Has he considered confining to standard rate of income tax the deductions and relieves which were allowable at the 41% rate given that such a measure could, according to figures from his own department, amount a sum 'in the order of €1 billion'? Will he also not consider abolishing the PRSI ceiling; such a measure would bring in €223 million in a full year.

"In fact, I fear the minister and the cabinet are not considering any of these options. Instead it is the equivalent of the route one long ball tax strategy of taxing those who can least afford it and who have the lowest disposable incomes." ENDS

Full text of Deputy Morgan's contribution follows:

Private Members Business - A new budget for 2009

Who doesn't know that we need a new budget as our public finances deteriorate daily? Who doesn't understand that the absence of effective strategies for job creation, taxation and public finances actively make a difficult trading environment for business become a dire one. Who doesn't know that taking action now is vital and that each day lost is another body blow to a bruised economy?

It seems that the only people who don't know are the coalition cabinet and the docile back benchers that will upon command tomorrow once more vote en masse to oppose this motion knowing that within it there is that undeniable truth that the Taoiseach has been sitting Nero-like for nearly a year now.

Do the 1,000 plus jobs lost each day in January not prove the dept of the crisis we face? Unemployment figures for February will come this week and tell an even more dismal tale.

It is 155 days since the banking bailout was announced at the end of last September. Longer since the calling of an early budget last year and longer still since the Government first went public last June about the deteriorating exchequer finances. I want to congratulate the Taoiseach today on his 300th day in office but I cannot congratulate him on his record over the last 10 months.

Napoleon got within striking distance of Paris within a 100 days of leaving exile on Elba before he met his Waterloo. It seems that Our Taoiseach's nadir will have to wait until June 5th. Indeed, the Taoiseach does have some Napoleon-like characteristics as he strutted, huffed and puffed presenting himself as a person of purpose and of action. The truth, however, is far different and there the comparison ends.

We in Sinn Fein, like many others, have been seeking a solution to the current economic down turn and have been attempting to probe the jungle of government finances and policies to find out just what is feasible and practical and our first conclusion must be that there is so much that the Government doesn't know.

When asked in parliamentary questions, the government and particularly the minister for Finance, does not know how many former TDs are drawing down pensions. The minister for Transport does not know how many miles of motorway have been built under PPPs in the 26 Counties, but we know that each mile was more expensive, more costly to the tax payer.Does he? Yet, the government persist in supporting PPP financing which is wasting tax payers money.

The minister for Finance cannot quantify the financial loss to the exchequer of tax exiles who are non residents. Is he aware that in the last year for which the Revenue Commissioners have issued figures that there was a 13% increase in the number of people claiming to be non residents. Will he release the names of the 5,803 people who live here part of the year, who work here, who create wealth here for themselves, but don't pay tax here.

And by the way did Bono send him a copy of the new album? No doubt it came with a big thank you from the boys in the band. I hear one of the tracks is called Moment of Surrender.

Maybe the minister has it on his iPod?

Isn't it interesting that we can have new copyright laws and court cases to protect the rights of music artists from illegal downloads, yet we can't make people who live here pay tax.

We don't imprison tax fraudsters or deviant bankers who squander billions, but we can catch the more traditional bank robbers within hours of a heist.

But let us not dwell on the negatives of the government's abysmal record and focus instead on the positive forward steps to pull the economy out this coalition-created malaise.

Does the minister for Finance know that an increase in the income levy to 6% on salaries of €200,000 and over would yield €130 million annually to the exchequer. I trust that he and all the other government ministers who enjoy salaries in this bracket would be more than willing to do their patriotic duty and pay such a levy?

Has he considered confining to standard rate of income tax the deductions and reliefs which were allowable at the 41% rate given that such a measure could, according to figures from his own department, amount a sum "in the order of €1 billion"?

Will he also not consider abolishing the PRSI ceiling; such a measure would bring in €223 million in a full year.

In fact, I fear the minister and the cabinet are not considering any of these options. Instead it is the equivalent of the route one long ball tax strategy of taxing those who can least afford it and who have the lowest disposable incomes.

Finance and taxation is only one plank of what the government needs to be doing. Where is the strategy on job creation. Given that the Taoiseach is flying to Washington for Patrick's Day has he been reading the US media? One column in a series in Sunday's New York Times on the recession was penned by Google CEO Eric Schmidt. In it he wrote "when looking at our economic decline, we can all agree on two things: we did not get here overnight and we will not recover tomorrow". Schmidt continues saying that there are steps that "need to be taken to speed up the process" such as "getting credit flowing again, taking action to create jobs. Repairing our broken infrastructure and increased transparency to ensure we measure the effectiveness of the dollars we spend".

Would the Taoiseach accept that none of these actions are being implemented here in Ireland. Maybe it is worth his while the Taoiseach travelling to a White House reception as he might take on board some of these proposals.

Maybe the Taoiseach read last Thursday's Irish Independent. I know he didn't read Friday's as we all know by now he doesn't do "bad" news. I was taken by the strap in one tabloid newspaper referring to the claim by EU Central bank Chairperson Trichet that the Taoiseach was "acting resolutely". The headline declared "Banker backs him, voters don't".

However, in the business section of the Indo last Thursday, an interview with Microsoft Ireland managing director Paul Rellis made interesting reading. He talks of building an innovation economy in Ireland and says that "One of the most emotional challenges facing this county is the fear factor. The country needs to focus on being ahead of the curve".

He proposes that, "Fibre-optic networks need to be deployed nationally to benefit schools and business, but fundamentally, Ireland's core advantage in the years ahead will be its people". Rellis proposes developing core clusters in the area of renewable energy and digital media and finishes by saying that there "are a lot of open ears in the public and private sector for building future industries".

I suppose we must ask the government here are their eyes open, as up until now they have been closed to the reality of the challenges we face and the opportunities available to us.

Finally, in a British newspaper interview today British Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling admits that ministers there "must have the humility to admit that mistakes were made in the lead up to the financial crisis". When will we see some humility from the cabinet here and real proof that lessons are being learnt?

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