Saturday 19 August 2017

As Budget looms, clear message is that people deserve a break

IRISH people's austerity fatigue is justified and heartfelt – but weariness of harsh medicine is not the best argument for a change to less onerous economic remedies. With Budget Day almost two months early this year, those political Budget kites are flying all the earlier. The original plan was for a €3.1bn austerity package in terms of cutbacks and extra taxes for 2014.

But government advances on bank debt terms have left some €600m leeway on that package. Assuming they can fend off pressure from the troika not to scale back austerity, the next question will be how to allocate this new-found "leeway''?

All signs so far are that the debate is breaking down along predictable lines: Labour wants to mitigate the proposed €440m in welfare cuts; Fine Gael wants the vast bulk of the money to go on job creation projects.

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