Government cannot blame EU for lack of public investment – Doherty
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has said news of a letter from Enda Kenny to EU Commission President Juncker shows that when it comes to the fiscal rules Fine Gael, its former partner Labour, and its current budgetary partner Fianna Fáil, are slow learners. Deputy Doherty also said the letter amounted to an attempt to shift the entire blame onto the EU and was a decoy to cover the government’s own failure to invest.
Deputy Doherty said:
“It would appear that finally Fine Gael have discovered that the fiscal rules which they negotiated are an issue. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour, the parties who campaigned for the rules to become law through that fiscal treaty referendum are slowly coming to realise that Sinn Féin was right all along. From the referendum campaign right up until our General Election manifesto and since, Sinn Féin have pointed out that these rules would prevent the investment our country needs. The penny is finally dropping in Government Buildings it seems; clearly, a case of fiscal rules for slow learners.
“The rules are designed ideologically to prevent necessary investment by States. For Sinn Féin, that was obvious from day one. The Government has gone to extreme lengths to circumvent their own rules by creating off balance sheet vehicles. These attempts have failed on a number of occasions. Both Irish Water and the Strategic Banking Corporation Ireland have been deemed by Eurostat to be on book despite efforts by the government to have them off book. The Government are learning that the rules are the problem, not Eurostat.
“While welcoming the fact that the Taoiseach is beginning to accept what we have always said in relation to the rules, the Taoiseach should not be allowed to shift the entire blame as he attempt to do in his letter. The rules certainly do place limits on your choices as a country but there are still decisions to be made within those limits. Despite the obvious dire need for investment Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail have all prioritised tax cuts for the better off. Those cuts come directly at the cost of investment.
“They, not the EU, decided that what space there was should be used for tax cuts and have ignored investment year after year. The blame for that ongoing policy lies with Dublin not Brussels. By committing to abolish USC by 2021, Fine Gael are saying that up to €25bn of potential investment over a five year period will not be made.
“Sinn Féin are committed to changing these austerity rules at an EU level while working for the flexibility we need at home and will work with any parties who are working to that end. In the meantime deflection is no excuse for the slow learners.”