A mish-mash of half-measures delays real pain
Yesterday's announcement of €2.2bn of public spending cuts by Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin, the first part of the new two-day Budget process, show that, almost nine months after first taking office, this Government has still to make the truly difficult political decisions.
Almost a third of the 2012 public spending cuts, €755m, will come from reductions in capital spending. While the culling of such Celtic Tiger vanity projects as Metro North was not necessarily a bad thing, cutting back on long-term infrastructural investment in the middle of the deepest economic downturn since we gained independence 90 years ago, is almost certainly a false economy, however pressing the conditions.
The long term is a subject that doesn't normally greatly concern politicians and right now the key for the Government is to meet imposed guidelines. Doing so without damage is virtually impossible. Sufficiently large amounts of "savings" have to be conjured for 2012. And yesterday the Government took the first step toward the painful decisions that are required to restore our State to solvency and economic sovereignty.