“Economic sovereignty” regained – more pain for working people

No surprise for readers of this blog but strange timing for this announcement from the government given the 500,000+ property tax returns outstanding and that there are key trade unions to ballot on the Haddington Road agreement in the next month. It seems they are confident that the working class will not fight and they don’t have to offer even the smallest of crumbs to buy us off. No-one can be sure when the tipping point that will push masses of working people over the edge into political and industrial action will be but maybe this hutzpah will play a role in helping bring that closer.

Here is the Irish Times report:

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will bring a proposal to Cabinet shortly to develop a stringent new economic plan to replace the troika bailout programme.

The State’s anticipated exit from the bailout this year will not mean a relaxing of austerity targets as Mr Noonan hopes Government will approve a fresh regime with firm timelines similar to the EU-IMF-ECB programme.

He has already set aside €1.4 million from his 2013 estimates to draft the plan aimed at growing the economy and ensuring the rigour imposed by the external bodies since 2010 is not lost during the next seven years.

“When we leave the programme we won’t have that kind of discipline within our system any more and I want to make sure that, because of more loose arrangements, that we don’t lose impetus,” he said.

“So we want to bring an economic plan which will take us from 2014 to 2020 and be quite specific in the early years where different tasks will have to be done.”

Mr Noonan said the measure had not been requested by the troika but was an initiative of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, and himself, and “we’ll be going to Government with it shortly”.

Long-term plan

The plan runs well beyond the current Coalition Government’s term in office, as the next general election will take place in spring 2016 at the latest.

Fiscal targets will be built into this “wider economic plan”, with all Government departments and agencies set specific tasks, he has confirmed to members of the Dáil select sub-committee on finance.

The Minister said there were “some costs” involved in developing the plan “and we’re building them in this year because we’ve started the work on it already”.

He is confident Ireland will exit its programme “at the back end of this year”.

Separately, Mr Howlin has written to all Government departments outlining proposed percentage spending cuts for the years 2015 and 2016.

Departments have already been given targets for next year and the letter contained a reminder about the reductions expected in 2014.

Three-year expenditure “ceilings” will be set out in the budget, due to be announced in October of this year.

The Departments of Health and Social Protection are understood to have been told to identify spending reductions of some 3 per cent in both years, but the figure could rise to 5 per cent for other politically sensitive departments.




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