Next two Budgets tough but vital, warns minister
FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan yesterday warned that the next two Budgets will be tough, but absolutely crucial to the country's economic recovery.
And the minister pledged to continue in his pivotal cabinet post as he said he was "feeling very well" after completing various treatments for cancer.
Mr Lenihan stressed there was no need for people to be fearful of the measures likely in the 2011 and 2012 Budgets -- saying the changes to date have, in fact, delivered a fairer tax system. "I can promise that, as Minister for Finance, I will try to ensure that the burden is borne by those who can best afford it," he said.
"Recent Budgets have, according to the ESRI, made a positive contribution towards a fairer tax system. The Budget measures have been progressive -- those who can afford to pay the most are paying the most." But Mr Lenihan said the Government was also fully aware of the "devastating" impact the past two years of economic turmoil had wreaked on many Irish families -- and would be implementing measures to help families in financial difficulty.
"We are conscious of the difficulties some people have -- that is why, for example, the Mortgage Protection Group will be producing fresh proposals in the autumn in addition to the proposals already in hand," he said.
Mr Lenihan warned Ireland could not afford any slippage in its resolve to make tough financial choices as the country copes with the combined impact of the global recession and the damage sustained to the country's financial sector.
"I am committed to delivering Budgets for 2011 and 2012 which continue to bring expenditure and revenues towards a sustainable balance. It is also now abundantly clear -- as the pressures on the eurozone this year have made manifest -- that neither the bond markets nor our major EU partners would tolerate any slippage on our part.
"So far, they are confident that we will keep to the path we have mapped out," he said.
Despite his treatment for cancer, Mr Lenihan said he felt well and looked forward to continuing in his role at the Department of Finance.
Speaking at the annual Michael Collins' commemoration at Beal na mBlath in west Cork, Mr Lenihan said his health problems had not impacted on his ability to do his job. "I have completed various treatments and I am feeling very well," he said.
"My health position has not impaired my capacity to do my job. Since January, I have been at all the cabinet meetings -- I may have missed one or two because I was away in Europe on business, but that happens to us all," he said.
Fresh Anglo fears