Lower paid 'will pick up the bill'
Brian Lenihan's Budget protects the rich while leaving lower and middle income earners to pick up the bill for the banking crisis, trade union leaders said tonight.
They also warned against the finance minister's optimistic predictions of economic growth because of a lack of investment and job creation measures.
SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor said Ireland`s wealthy elite will be relieved.
"There is no provision for wealth tax. There is no provision for a tax on asset wealth and trophy houses," he said.
"The top marginal rate of income tax is to remain unchanged.
"On the other hand, middle and lower income families along with those on the age exemption limits will contribute €1.15bn as a result of the tax credit and band changes alone without including the effects of the universal social charge."
Mr O'Connor said the less well off would be hit further by cuts on child benefit, maternity benefit and social welfare reductions for those who paid tax and PRSI all their lives and lost their jobs.
Unite Irish regional secretary Jimmy Kelly condemned the Budget as a savage and undemocratic attack on people who the Government think will not fight back.
"This government has sought to right the wrongs of the bank leadership's criminal misadventure by taking €40 per week off workers on the minimum wage.
"The cutbacks included in this budget will strangle growth and render the Government's four year plan redundant, but they don't care because they will hand this poisoned chalice to the people and depart for the opposition benches."
John Douglas, Mandate's general secretary, accused the Government of scapegoating lower and middle income workers.
"Despite having no mandate left the Government seem determined to press ahead with making swingeing cuts to the minimum wage and to welfare which will devastate the lives of the people on the margins of our society," he said.
"The people of this country need to show that they will not tolerate such undemocratic action and insist that there is a General Election at the earliest possible date so that we can put in place a new Government that will look to address our problems through creating jobs and growing the economy."
Impact's general secretary Shay Cody said the Budget would disproportionately hit the living standards of those on low and middle incomes.
"By taking yet more money from those on low and middle incomes - be they workers, welfare recipients or pensioners - the Government is guaranteeing that we won't grow out of the financial crisis," he said.
"Instead, the Government's vicious circle of economic decline will continue as consumer demand falls further, creating more unemployment and further declines in tax revenue."