Tuesday 6 December 2016

Middle income earners will likely get tax breaks in budget - Howlin

Published 16/07/2015 | 18:38

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin

Middle and low income earners are likely to get tax breaks in the upcoming budget, according to Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin.

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He also suggested the social partnership model of the Bertie Ahern era is no longer an option.

"We're not going back to the social partnership model whereby representatives of any sectoral interest get to make binding decisions, on everybody else," he said.

"We're going to live within the fiscal rules."

 In its Spring Economic Statement, the Government agreed that a package of budget measures of between €1.2bn and €1.5bn for 2016 ​will be​ evenly divided between tax and spending​.​

 Speaking this afternoon, Minister Howlin said this strategy​ will underpin​ the approach to the budget.​

 "There is an understanding that we have high taxation because of the emergency we've gone through in some sectors of the community.

 ​''We want to reduce that, particularly on middle and low earners."

 He stressed today's National Economic Dialogue forum in Dublin Castle is "not a parliament", but an outlet to have robust discussions with relevant interest groups, on what a "recovering Ireland" should look like.

 "In the past Michael Noonan and I have met with every sectional interest by themselves.

 "This forum allows everybody to hear everybody else, so that we can make rational decisions."

 He pointed out a priority for Government is to avoid repeating budgetary mistakes from the past, while at the same time building a "social, inclusive Ireland for the future."

 Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, said Ireland has emerged from a​ "crisis phase" and has returned to a sound financial footing.

 He also echoed Minister Howlin's sentiments that today's National Economic Dialogue is not a "negotiation with social partners."

 "This is taking the leaders from many influential groups in the country, and trying to establish what level of consensus there would be towards policy decisions.

 "It's to establish the parameters for an economic and social programme from now until 2020."

 He said his aim is to use "tax instruments" to further grow the economy.

 Referring ​to ​the escalating financial crisis in Greece, he welcomed the decision by Eurozone ministers to give  ​the country​ a €7bn bridging loan from an EU-wide fund , to keep its finances afloat until a bailout is approved.

 "Greece is in arrears with the IMF, and has a big payment coming up to the European Bank.

 "If they didn't meet these payments they would be in default.

 "So it was necessary to have bridging finance to make sure Greece didn't go into default.

 "Seven billion euro will be provided, they'll pay their debts to the IMF, and to the European Central Bank."

 While h​e​ believes the latest eurozone bailout deal is sustainable, it's success "depends on implementation."

 Referring to claims in the Dáil by Independent TD , Mick Wallace, that an official at NAMA sought a bribe from a debtor, he said there is robust legislation governing the accountability ​of the Agency.​

 "It's the most accountable State agency of all," he added.

 "If an employee got money to influence his decision making, then the Gardai are the appropriate people to investigate that.

 "The processes in place, in accordance with law, should be allowed take its course."

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