€2bn cuts drive to target consultants and judges
THE new Programme for Government is promising to cut payments for doctors, consultants and judges as part of its plan to achieve around €2bn in cutbacks in public spending next year.
Fine Gael and Labour have promised to stick generally to the targets set out in the National Recovery Plan agreed with the EU for next year -- which promises to cut public spending by this amount.
There are specific promises in their Programme for Government to hold a referendum to reduce the wages for three key groups of public servants -- consultants, GPs and judges.
The Coalition will need to sign new contracts with GPs and consultants to cut their pay, while a referendum will be required to cut the wages of judges, who have so far escaped public sector pay cuts.
There is also a strong commitment to "cut failing programmes" and get rid of "pork barrel politics", which in the past has led to lavish spending on useless constituency projects. But there is very little detail in their new programme about where most of the €2bn in public spending cuts will be found.
Fine Gael had promised during the election campaign to "keep taxes low" by relying more heavily on spending cuts -- and any shortfall in cuts will have to be made up by stealth taxes, such as VAT increases and local government charges.
A 'Comprehensive Spending Review' is being set up to identify some of the public spending savings targeted by the Coalition. Some of the savings will come from getting the State's 34 local authorities to share human resources and IT services.
Fine Gael promised to get rid of 145 named quangos --but the programme simply promises "substantial cuts" in this area.
And there is a pledge to set up a Fixmystreet.ie website, which will allow people to report problems with street lighting, drainage, graffitti, waste collection and road maintenance to their local council -- instead of having to complain to their local TD or councillor.
The Coalition is promising to end long-term homelessness and make savings at the same time. It said it could do this by giving homeless people "suitable long-term housing" straight away and "radically reduce the use of hostel accommodation and the associated costs for the Exchequer".