John Drennan: Howlin rules out further budget to meet troika goals
THE Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has emphatically ruled out the possibility of a mini-budget in the new year.
In the wake of stark third-quarter figures about growth in the Irish economy, speculation had been growing that a further mini-budget would be required in the new year to ensure Ireland remained compliant with the targets set out by the troika.
Mr Howlin, however, decisively ruled out such a move. Speaking to the Sunday Independent he said "the one thing this Government wants to do" in what he described as "an era of extraordinarily tight resources" is to "give people certainty''.
The minister added that whilst "six months ago we didn't have the level of crisis we have in the eurozone" it was assuredly "not the intention of this Government to have a further budget before next December".
Responding to the public's unhappiness about pre-budgetary kite-flying, Mr Howlin did, however, state that it was his intent to have proposals for the next budget thoroughly "scrutinised" within the Dail committee structure.
He added "that is what Dail committees should be doing'' and somewhat optimistically claimed "all the main parties have bought into this particular issue''.
The minister also rejected mischievous opposition speculation about possible hospital closures due to a "flight of nurses" from the health service.
Opposition sources had told the Sunday Independent that under current health and safety legislation, should the number of nurses in a hospital fall beneath a certain critical mass, the hospital could be forced to close.
The minister, however, told the Sunday Independent "we are not going to close hospitals'' and pledged that a targeted recruitment drive would plug "critical skills shortages" in the public sector.