Saturday 25 March 2017

Jim Power: Value for money has to be the tax mantra

Using taxpayers' money to deliver a better level of public services will be easier said than done, writes Jim Power

ALLOCATING REVENUES: Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announces the 2016 budgetbut. Frank McGrath
ALLOCATING REVENUES: Minister for Finance Michael Noonan announces the 2016 budgetbut. Frank McGrath

Jim Power

Despite the mysticism that many economists seek to shroud economics in, it really is quite a simple discipline. It basically seeks to examine how scarce resources can be allocated to meet needs that are basically insatiable, in the best manner possible. The government is a key player in the economic system, as one of its main roles is to gather revenues and allocate those revenues to achieve the best possible outcome.

That is easier said than done, as everybody has a different definition of the best possible outcome. It is nigh on impossible to allocate resources in a manner that will satisfy everybody. We all want better roads, better flood defence systems, a better health service with more front-line staff, more teachers and more courses in the education system, a better and safer environment and so on.

The list of desires could go on for pages, but the problem is that we simply do not have sufficient resources to satisfy all of the requirements that society has. Choices have to be made, but it is also essential to ensure that every cent spent is done so in the most efficient manner possible.

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