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PDs on tax nothing more than cut and paste of failed Thatcherite thinking - Ó Caoláin

18 September, 2006

Sinn Féin's Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has warned voters that PD tax polices, being discussed at a PD meeting in Malahide today, would have drastic consequences for public services and social protections if they were implemented. Saying the PD policymaking was nothing more than cutting and pasting failed Thatcherite economic thinking, Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to say that 'having seen what they can do in two terms of office, I shudder to think at the damage they could to with a third'.

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said: "It is clear that far from a 'radical departure' the Progressive Democrats are bent on simply reheating the same policies of the last five years that have made this state one of the most unequal in the world, gutted state companies and institutionalised racism. Instead of new thinking, the PDs will today continue to simply cut and paste failed Thatcherite economic theories into Irish politics and call it policymaking. Having seen what they can do in two terms of office, I shudder to think what damage they could do with a third.

"It has been reported in the media that the Progressive Democrats are discussing proposals to reduce the top rate of tax to 40 per cent and for the standard rate of 20 per cent to apply to single people earning less than €50,000 or €100,000 for couples.

"Such changes would primarily benefit the better-off, would make the tax system even more regressive than it is at present, and would have drastic consequences for the provision of public services. The overwhelming majority of the people in this state rely on public services including a public health system, a public education system and a public transport system. These tax cuts would reduce the revenue available to government to provide essential public services, while also having the effect of further fuelling inflation increases.

"Even a brief overview of the taxation system demonstrates that it is not furthering the objective of achieving a progressively more equal distribution of wealth. Successive income tax cuts have benefited high income individuals more (in real terms) than those on low-incomes over the past decade while tax expenditures have re-distributed wealth in favour of the already wealthy. Regressive double taxes like the Bin Charges have hit hardest working families struggling to get by and has been directly attributed by commentators to increased numbers of working poor.

"A report by the CSO entitled 'Measuring Ireland's Progress, 2005' found that the proportion of people in the state at risk of poverty, after pensions and social transfer payments were taken into account, was 21% in 2004. This was one of the highest rates in the EU.

"It also found that over 6% of men and over 7% of women were in consistent poverty in 2004 and that almost 22% of ill or disabled people were experiencing consistent poverty. The wealthy such as those represented by the PDs enjoy many advantages including preferential health care, preferential education for themselves and their children, political influence and media power.

"The tax policies of the PDs are designed to preserve and accentuate the economic inequality identified by the CSO and to benefit those whose wealth means they have no need of public services. They are the logical working out of the belief that inequality is good for society, articulated by Michael McDowell in recent years.

"Irish voters must decide if they are prepared to allow a fringe and fanatical wealthy elite to further profit while public services are decimated and private interests ransack state companies such as Aer Lingus, An Post and the ESB.

"There is an alternative. Sinn Féin is committed to an overhaul of the tax system to create an equitable and fair taxation system underpinned by the objective of bringing about the redistribution of wealth and the elimination of poverty. We want to create a system where those who have more, pay more while those who have less, pay less. We are committed to raising the revenue necessary to deliver a proper health system, education, childcare, housing and infrastructure -- all of which are in chaos as a consequence of the policies pursued by the current government. I believe that this is what the vast majority of people want and what they deserve."


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