Thursday 23 February 2017

FF and SF promise alternative plans

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Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FIANNA Fail and Sinn Fein last night failed to produce alternatives to the Government's four-year plan -- but insisted they will have their own proposals in the coming weeks.

Both opposition parties criticised the Fine Gael-Labour coalition's decision to frontload cuts to capital spending, with €750m to be taken from infrastructural projects next year.

A total of €1.4bn will be cut between 2012 and 2014, with no reductions in 2015.

The opposition say more should be spent on providing economic stimulus, and maintain they will publish their own policies before the December 6 Budget.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman Michael McGrath said the Government's four-year plan was almost the same as the one outlined by his party before last year's budget.

Mr McGrath said Fine Gael and Labour "opposed and argued vehemently against" the approach by Brian Lenihan.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan yesterday said both Government parties accepted the targets laid down by Mr Lenihan, as dictated by the EU and IMF, but did not agree on how to reach those targets.

Mr McGrath said Fianna Fail remained committed to bringing the deficit down to 3pc by 2015. But he said there was no "strategy for economic growth, job creation and restoring confidence in the domestic economy" in the Coalition's plan.

Welfare

Fianna Fail would prefer to focus more of the cuts on day-to-day spending -- which includes areas like welfare and public sector wages.

"We'll come up with out own proposals close to the Budget," the Cork South-Central TD said.

He also said the "Government is again not clear on the issue of possible future income tax changes".

Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty also said there should be more investment in infrastructure, and his party will be outlining a three-year €7bn stimulus package in the coming weeks.

"It is little more than Fianna Fail policies repackaged, which begs the question -- what was the point of the general election if Fine Gael and Labour had no policies of their own to implement?

"Slashing €750m from the capital budget will mean a loss of 7,500 badly-needed jobs next year," the Donegal South-West TD added.

Richard Boyd-Barrett of the United Left Alliance said Mr Noonan's plan is "economics of the madhouse".

Irish Independent

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