Bail-out closer as EU backs savings plan
Negotiations on the EU/IMF bail-out will step up a gear today after Europe publicly approved the Government's €15bn savings plan.
EU Economics Commissioner Olli Rehn gave the thumbs up to the savage four-year budget package, which will impose €3bn social welfare cuts, axe 25,000 public jobs and hike income tax.
The plan is also believed to have the backing of the IMF, which continues to examine how much of a bail-out is needed - €85bn at the last count.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned yesterday that no-one could be sheltered from the Government's last-gasp economic recovery plan as he clings to power.
The minimum wage will be cut by €1 to €7.65 and in a double-whammy, income tax bands and rates will dramatically widen and increase to raise €1.9bn.
In the public services, newly-hired workers such as teachers and nurses will be pitted colleague against colleague as they start off on 10pc lower wages than current state employees.
The opposition, unions and rights campaigners branded the cuts a savage attack on the most vulnerable and the working poor.
But the Taoiseach rejected claims that the draconian blueprint targeted those on the breadline and insisted those who had the most must pay the most.
Step two in securing the bailout loans will be passing the €6bn slash-and-burn Budget for 2011 when it is unveiled next month - a potentially difficult task for the embattled Taoiseach with his razor-thin government majority.