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Sinn Féin slams Cowen for playing brinkmanship with partnership talks

3 February, 2009

Following the collapse of the partnership talks in the early hours of this morning Sinn Féin Economic Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD has slammed the Taoiseach for playing brinkmanship with the partnership process.

Deputy Morgan said:

"Brian Cowen has squandered the last six months by refusing to bring forward a plan to address Ireland's public finance crisis. The Taoiseach has shamefully played brinkmanship with the unions and social partners, the result of which now leaves the governments finance policy in ruins and throws up questions about his ability to steer the country out of recession.

"The Taoiseach's decision to start discussions on the pension levy at the eleventh proves that he was never fully committed to the process and the talks were simply an exercise in window dressing. Sinn Féin is not opposed to taxation and other measures to redress the country's ailing public finances however we agree with the trade union movement that low to middle income earners cannot carry the substantial burden.

"Proposing a 3.8% pension levy for those on the lowest incomes whilst the CEO of the ESB continues to earn an annual salary of €534,998 and senior bank executives who have undermined the country's banking system and exposed Irish taxpayers to astronomical liabilities keep their jobs and a massive income is an outrageous proposition by Brian Cowen.

"Sinn Fein believes the primary goal of the government's economic recovery plan must be to safeguard the livelihoods of low and middle income workers and deliver a job creation strategy. Sinn Féin last October in its pre-Budget submission found almost €2 billion in saving for the exchequer yet Brian Cowen is still flailing in the dark." ENDS

Some of Sinn Féin's public finance savings proposals

- Removal of the PRSI ceiling to generate €334 million in revenue

- Make all discretionary tax relief schemes available only at the standard rate of tax, this would raise up to €1 billion

- Introduce legislation to end tax exile status

- End Private School Subsidies which costs the state almost €88 million which is paid to the salaries of teachers in more than 50 fee-paying schools

- Increase Deposit Interest Retention Tax by 5% which would raise €130 million

- Extend the pay pause for civil servants of principal officer level (above €80,000)

- End the subsidising of private patients in public hospitals which costs the state approximately €100 million

- Increase the price of a packet of cigarettes by €2- raises €320million

- Pending the restructuring of the tax system, we suggest an immediate increase in the flat levy from 2% to 3% on those earning over €200,000.

- More than 50 civil servants are currently employed to work in government Ministers constituency offices.  This mis-use of taxpayer's money should end immediately.

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