Monday 25 September 2017

Budget now needs to move to surplus and stay that way

The pre-budget review should conclude that the economy is strong and giveaways are not needed

Measure of the economy: Assistant Principal Officer Brendan O'Leary (left), and Principal Officers John Palmer and Annette Connolly at the Department of Finance press conference to release the Exchequer returns for the second quarter Photo: Sam Boal
Measure of the economy: Assistant Principal Officer Brendan O'Leary (left), and Principal Officers John Palmer and Annette Connolly at the Department of Finance press conference to release the Exchequer returns for the second quarter Photo: Sam Boal
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

Last Thursday, the Cabinet met to consider the state of the economy in advance of a formal review to be published later this month. The purpose is to usher in the pre-budget speculation season, on which large volumes of ink must be spilled over the next three months.

If the review is rooted in reality, it will draw two conclusions: (i) The economy is in the fifth straight year of a decent recovery, and (ii) this provides no basis for budget giveaways.

Budget 2018 is due early in October. It will be, and it should be, another low-key affair with only minor changes in taxation and spending, which will not discourage the pre-budget speculation industry.

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