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Plight of low income households must be central to the forthcoming budget - Ó Caoláin

20 October, 2006


Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, responding to the publication of the Government's "Pre-Budget Outlook" said that the Minister for Finance Brian Cowen must put tackling the plight of low income households at the core of the forthcoming budget. Ó Caoláin welcomed indications from Finance Minister Brian Cowen that the upcoming budget will favour increases in personal tax credits and tax bands over tax cuts but said the Government did not appear to be preparing now to overcome its precariously high dependence on revenue generated from consumption and construction.

Ó Caoláin said that, "Sinn Féin wants to see those on the minimum wage kept out of the tax net and those on or below the average industrial wage kept within the standard tax band. Therefore we welcome the indication from Minister Cowen that the budget will favour increases in personal tax credits and tax bands over tax cuts. Sinn Féin supports moves to increase personal tax credits, as, unlike tax cuts, when personal tax credits are increased everyone with an income in excess of the amount of that credit would benefit by that amount. Increasing the tax credit is also a means by which Government can address the plight of the working poor. We would support increases to the standard tax band which would ensure that those on the average industrial wage are kept within the standard tax band.

"The exchequer is precariously over dependent on revenue generated from consumption and construction. Any significant downturn in the construction sector or consumption will result in a sharp contraction in revenue. The Government does not appear to be planning for this eventuality. Planning for the impact of a downturn in construction or consumption involves identifying ways to widen the tax base and redressing the fact that we have particularly low levels of tax on high incomes, on wealth (including windfall gains) and on property.

"Sinn Féin's priorities for Budget 2007 can be summed up as follows: helping the less well off cope with rising costs; ensuring access to high quality public services and amenities for all; strengthening social protections and eliminating advantages for the better off in the tax system and making the tax system more redistributive and progressive." ENDS

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