New exchequer returns to show spending and taxes on target
THE Government is set to get a slight boost today when figures show that its tax take and spending is "broadly on target".
It comes as Taoiseach Brian Cowen and his ministers have refused to rule out introducing water or property taxes in the forthcoming Budget, which is set to be even harsher than previously thought.
The exchequer returns for last month due to be published at 4.30pm today are expected to show that the tax take and government spending for last month are broadly in line with expectations.
But the figures will show another rise in the exchequer deficit, which already stood at €12.1bn last August.
There were varying reports yesterday that the Government may be seeking between €500m and €1.5bn in extra cuts on top of the €3bn target already agreed on to ensure that the exchequer deficit is cut in line with EU targets. But the Department of Finance said no figure had been arrived at yet because its officials were still calculating the estimated value of gross national product for this year and future years -- which will influence how much has to be cut in the Budget.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen refused to rule out the possibility of water or property taxes being introduced in December's Budget. He said that the Government had made a decision to give consideration to all policy options in order to bring the public finances back to less than 3pc of GDP by 2014.
Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Pat Carey backed up this message yesterday by ruling out any "no-go areas" for potential cutbacks.
"At this stage the Government will have to examine every possible area of expenditure, income and so on -- because we are in a crisis situation. There is no point in trying to sugar the pill," he said.
Mr Carey told RTE's 'Week in Politics' that the technology could be in place to allow for the "comprehensive" metering of water inside 18 months. And on a possible property tax, he said that there were "some discussions around site values that have got to be explored".
Fine Gael is seeking to increase the pressure on backbench FF TDs such as Mattie McGrath by bringing forward a Dail motion this week to suspend "unsustainable cutbacks" to frontline health services. The Government currently has a majority of just four following the withdrawal of support by independent TD Noel Grealish.
FG health spokesman Dr James Reilly said savings could be made in the health budget from the "back room" rather than from frontline services.
Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said she was not convinced that the Government would provide full information to the opposition parties so that it could draw up its own four-year budgetary framework.