Labour to seek pay freeze in private sector as well
LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday cast doubt on Fine Gael's ability to achieve 30,000 voluntary redundancies in the public service.
He was speaking at the launch of his party's economic stability plan, which commits to 18,000 voluntary redundancies among the country's 310,000 public servants over the next three years.
"I would very much doubt if others can achieve more without compulsory redundancies," he said. Mr Gilmore also promised to seek to negotiate an agreement for a pay freeze in the private sector for three years -- to match the existing pay freeze in the public sector. If particular sectors of the economy started to move ahead and grant workers pay rises, it would place pressure on other sectors of the economy, he said.
Labour's plan is to reduce the deficit in the public finances by €7bn over the next four years -- which is €2bn less and one year longer than the official target. But Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton defended her party against accusations that taking longer would cost more in interest payments.
"Austerity and cuts alone, as we know, will not do the job. Whatever savings have been made by cuts have been eroded by the fact that growth rates keep falling," she said.
Labour is planning to use €2.8bn in the National Pensions Reserve Fund to "shovel into ready projects" and then allocate the €2bn remaining in the fund towards the creation of a Strategic Investment Bank when market conditions improve. Such a bank was set up in Germany after the devastation of World War II. However, it could take years to establish.
Labour's plan is based on a projection of 1.25pc growth in national income this year, whereas the Central Bank has cut its growth forecast to just 1pc this year. A Labour spokesman said the ESRI's growth forecast was 1.5pc, adding the party was confident there was prospect for growth in the economy this year.
Mr Gilmore struggled to say what he would do if his party was in Government by next month -- when it would have to provide a list of measures to the EU-IMF to achieve €700m in one-off savings.
"That is something that has to be renegotiated," he said.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny had also struggled to answer this question earlier in the week.
Finance Minister Brian Lenihan revealed yesterday that a list was being drawn up by his department for the EU-IMF, which included the sale of mobile phone spectrum licences and once-off property sales.