Elderly and Sick – Soft Targets for Finance Minister – BREEN

October 15th, 2008 - Pat Breen
Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen described yesterday’s budget as “savage” claiming that the greatest pain was inflicted on the elderly, the poor, and those most in need. He claims that as a result of the Budget all taxes are on the way up, borrowing is on the way while services and capital spending is on the way down.


“Minister Lenihan’s Medicine fails to cure any patients indeed as a result of yesterdays budget further pain will be inflicted on those most in need.”

The Minister has chosen the soft targets the Sick and the Elderly

· Abolishing Medical Cards for the Over 70’s will mean serious anxiety for all elderly people who have already seen the value of their pensions wiped out and who have contributed so much to this Country.

· A Massive 50% increase in A&E charges, 14% on in-patient charges, 20% increase in private and semi-private bed charges and another hike in threshold for the Drugs Payment Scheme which has increased by 80% since 2002.

His attack on soft targets did not stop however with the Sick and the Elderly

· A new 1% income levy to 2.1 million workers and pensioners with non-pension income, including those working part-time and on the minimum wage

· Introduced a new property tax of €200

· Introduce a new €10 air travel tax to business travellers and tourists that is completely unrelated to carbon emissions or environmental objectives and will put further pressure on Services to and from Shannon Airport.

· Increase tax on interest on savings from 20% to 23%

· Increase VAT to 21.5%, which together with a swathe of other hikes to excises and charges will add 1.1% to the rate of inflation in 2009

· Increase capital gains tax from 20% to 22%

· Increase college registration fees from €900 to €1,500

· No increase personal tax credits to match inflation

“These measures are self-defeating because they will further depress consumer spending, raise the cost of living, cut into our competitiveness and undermine incentives for work, investment and entrepreneurship. It is the greatest job destruction Budget in 25 years

Not to mention the fact that School Transport Costs are to rise by 80%, the student teacher ratio is set to increase and what about the School Building Capital projects, how more will schools like Ennis National have to wait in the queue and third level fees introduced by the back door.

He also Cut Exchequer spending on infrastructure programmes by €800 million, and total public and private spending on infrastructure by €2,000 million

* On Transport Infrastructure we are promised the completion of the Ennis/Athenry Rail Link, what does the future hold for the remainder of the Line from Ennis to Limerick and the promised commuter stop at Sixmilebridge.

* Road Infrastructure – where now for the continuation of the N18 Gort/Crusheen Bypass?

* Not to mention the fact that the Local Government Fund has been cut by €25m which will result in future pressure on Clare County Council to deliver local services when their Budget from Central Government is already inadequate.

I expect more announcements over the next few days when the detail of yesterdays budget is scrutinised.

The real tragedy is all these measures would have been unnecessary if the Government had taken the brave decisions needed to control day-to-day public spending and to improve the efficiency of the public service. Despite all the huffing and puffing before the Budget, we now find that:

· Today’s Budget actually increases 2009 voted current spending from the pre-Budget level by €533 million and by €1.9 billion (up 4%) compared with 2008

· Provides for an increase in public sector pay and pensions of €631 million (up 3.3%)

· Defers – once again – all hard decisions on public sector reform to more commissions and advisory groups.

It is this increase in day-to-day spending by an unreformed public sector that is driving up our borrowing next year. Of the €1.9 billion increase in borrowing to €13.4 billion, all is accounted for by higher day-to-day spending.

The forecasts for lower borrowing in 2010 and 2011 are based on completely unrealistic projections and assumptions.

Like our parents before us, another generation are now being forced to mortgage their children’s future to pay for the waste and extravagance of a Fianna Fáil Government.

“This Budget is the culmination of four years of boom-to-bust economic management by Brian Cowen and Fianna Fáil. They stoked the boom for their electoral gain, and now their credibility as responsible managers of the economy is bust.”