FG reaction: Another Budget on cards in New Year, says Noonan
FINE Gael has raised the prospect of an early Budget next year if the Government's actions fail to produce the multi-billion savings ordered by the IMF and EU.
The party's finance spokesman Michael Noonan said the Budget flunked the job-creation challenge, hit the most vulnerable and put more pressure on lower and middle income earners.
Fine Gael voted against the Budget last night -- but will consider supporting some specific elements of the budgetary plans, which are similar to its own, during the later stages of voting.
Mr Noonan, who is likely to be the country's next Finance Minister, promised "strong opposition" to plans to impose cutbacks on widows' pensions, carer's allowances and benefits for the disabled and blind.
He accused the Government of being "socially blind", saying it should have treated these people in the same way as those on the State pension who escaped the cutbacks.
Fine Gael reiterated its support for the Government's €6bn cutbacks target in 2011 and the requirement to reduce the deficit to 3pc by 2014.
But Mr Noonan said an early Budget may be required next year if the plan for hitting that €6bn target is not working.
Fine Gael could find itself in power by March and having to implement the Budget brought in by its rivals in Fianna Fail.
"We may have to have it [early Budget] if the savings which have been identified aren't really supported by policy decisions," he warned.
"It may be necessary to have an early Budget."
Mr Noonan raised the prospect of an early Budget after accusing Finance minister Mr Lenihan of a "policy of concealment" .
He claimed the minister had failed to spell out how exactly €4bn out of €6bn in savings were going to come from public spending.
The €6bn package of spending cuts and tax hikes was "the Budget of a puppet Government, who are doing what they have been told to do by the IMF, the EU Commission and the European Central Bank".
While Fine Gael would "stick to the targets" ordered by the EU, it would attempt to renegotiate specific aspects of the four-year plan if it gets into power in the New Year.
"Fine Gael wants the IMF out of here . . . we are well capable of managing our own affairs," Mr Noonan said.
The country was not ruined beyond repair and ccould come through this.
But he claimed Fianna Fail's idea of a "new Ireland" is to go back to "Bertie's Ireland".
And he insisted there should be "no chance" of this scenario because a new society with a reformed public service and political structure is now required.
The past government was responsible for letting the country go "bust" because of its misguided policies and fatal banking policies. The economic bubble cannot be reinflated, Mr Noonan warned.