Michael Noonan insists Budget 2013 will be fair
FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has insisted next week's budget will impact those who can most afford it.
The man behind the cuts and tax hikes due to be announced on Wednesday said people were expecting it to be a tough day, but he insisted it would be fair.
"People are expecting a very tough budget. That's the feeling on the ground," Mr Noonan said.
"But I want to assure everybody that while we have to make the adjustments that we have to make, it will be fair.
"It will be a fair budget, impacting on those who can most afford it."
Amid accusations that the Fine Gael-Labour coalition was attacking the poor, working classes and hard-pressed middle, Tanaiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said he was confident the €3.5bn of adjustments would be fair and balanced.
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald had accused the Government of adopting old Fianna Fail austerity policies to hit the family home, amid fresh speculation about a new property tax.
She said the tax, which could see the owner of a typical house paying around €315 a year, has come straight from the last Government's stark four-year plan.
Ms McDonald said the expected tax was a further assault on low-to-middle income families that had already been ripped off.
"This is not about broadening the tax base," Ms McDonald said.
"This is about hitting the same people once again who have borne the brunt of this recession."
Ms McDonald added that Labour in particular should be ashamed of itself for supporting the tax.
"Why on earth would the Labour party continue to pursue Fianna Fáil policies that place the burden of the crisis on the squeezed middle?" she said.
It is understood the property tax, details of which will be confirmed on Budget Day on December 5, is to be self-assessed and based on the value of a home.
According to reports, the value of a property will increase in bands of €50,000 up to €1m.
This could see the owner of a home worth the national average price of €157,400 paying €315 annually.
The tax is expected to range between €300 and €400 for most homeowners.
It is understood the rate could be set at 0.25pc.
Elsewhere, Mr Noonan noted there had been less fear among the public over the impending budget.
He said there had been less speculation in the media - due to a focus on other events in the news.
"So I don't think the fear is as active as it was last year," he added.