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Cullinane welcomes announcement of Seanad budget debate

23 November, 2011

Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane has asked the government to take the voices of the opposition, of civil society, and of the people in to account before deciding on next year's Budget.

 Speaking in the Seanad today, he welcomed the fact that a debate has been scheduled in the Seanad for next week to discuss the budget and alternative proposals to it.

 Senator Cullinane said:

 “I welcome the fact that a debate has been scheduled to discuss the budget and allow opposition parties and independent senators to put forward alternative proposals to the government’s.

 “The steady drip-drip of bad news stories about cut backs emanating from the various ministers and departments illustrate clearly the paucity of imagination which the government possesses, and the clear political choices which they seem set to make.

 “We have heard of cutbacks in capital projects which could have created countless jobs, we understand that the flat regressive Universal Social Charge is to be retained, that the Jobseekers' Benefit is possibly to be cut, that Rent Allowance is to be cut, third level fees to be increased, and a charge of €50 may be levied on the medical card.

 “This is a clear political choice. The government has decided to pursue regressive measures, which hit the least well off, low budget families and do nothing to create jobs, and has ignored the clear ability of high earners to pay more.

 “There is an alternative. Our Pre-Budget Submission proposes a €3.6bn adjustment, which is based on an additional €3.263bn in additional taxation measures, which are progressive and fair in nature and €837.25m in savings. We are also calling for a stimulus to be applied to the economy.

 “Economic recovery and solving the unemployment crisis is not possible without investment. We are proposing a stimulus of €7bn focused on ‘shovel-ready’ schemes which would get the maximum amount possible working as soon as possible.

 “Indeed we are not the only people with an alternative. I have received countless submissions from many voluntary groups, trade unions, business group and NGOs, many of which make excellent proposals worthy of serious consideration. Few of them fit with the Government’s strict adherence to austerity policies.

 “I am asking that the Government take next week’s debate, and any opportunities they have to engage with the public, as a serious opportunity to hear what the people are saying, and to hear how we can get out of this recession, without punishing the vulnerable.” ENDS

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