Sunday 25 September 2016

Forget tax cuts - use the money to help the world's poor

Published 22/09/2016 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan: preparing the upcoming Budget
Finance Minister Michael Noonan: preparing the upcoming Budget

There is good news for us all in the upcoming Budget.

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Let me explain. The moral imperative is that resources should be applied where need is greatest. It is a non-controversial, objective fact, that the overwhelming greatest human need is being experienced by those outside our country where there is such hunger and extreme poverty.

The extremely poor do not have access to the very basic necessities for life. Rather than being a right, life is the prerequisite for all human rights.

We Irish think that we are generous. We agree that we should do that which is at least our fair share in eradicating extreme poverty. Indeed our successive governments have committed us as a people to do so. But we are not doing so and since we are not doing our share it is illogical to consider ourselves generous, fair or committed to justice.

This outcome is unfortunately a direct consequence of our demands. Governments perceive that the electorate are not motivated to help the starving of the world - voters are motivated by more personal issues. So the Government has made its decision. Of the €900m available, €600m will now go to better services and €300m to tax relief. We would need to give €600m more to do only our fair share for those in most need. The Government is to give us back half of this. We now need only find the other half.

So whatever it is you are to get from the Government in tax reduction or social welfare increase - double it and give to a trustworthy overseas charity.

It will now only cost you half as much as what you should have given last year. If we all do so we will save 35,900 lives and lift 5 million out of extreme poverty. Now, that is good news. And perhaps then we can justifiably make our own, less urgent demands.

Aidan Barry

Farnanes, Cork

Abolishing USC would be folly

With the Budget looming, we are once again back to the same old politics with all the political parties demanding more and more spending while refusing to widen a already narrowing tax base.

Where have we heard all this before, have we learned anything? The proposed abolition of the USC will remove €4.1bn from our tiny economy, which cannot be easily replaced and should instead, as the voters of this country demanded, be used to pay for services.

Handing back a few euro to each worker while our health service, for example, is in a shambles is foolhardy. I'm tired of politicians clapping themselves on the back, claiming credit for a growing economy, an economy we are told can afford this massive refund.

Who are you trying to fool? I suspect an election looming. Unfortunately, the vast majority of workers in this country haven't felt the so-called recovery.

Like it or not, it was the qualified members of the Troika who laid down the foundation stone and pointed Ireland in the right direction and it is they, plus the ESRI and many more besides, who are warning Ireland not to go down the same road to disaster again.

I no longer believe that economies collapse because of the great global markets; evidence in this country at least would suggest it much more likely to be bad governance.

Until such time as we change our political system and elect people of substance will real qualifications, mother Ireland will always be on her knees.

Eugene McGuinness

Bishop Birch Place, Kilkenny

Stop interfering in US election

I wonder how these-high profile Irish people who are publicly meddling in the American presidential election, would feel if an American musician or CEO made public statements vilifying the leader of an Irish political party?

If President Donald Trump is in the White House on March 17, will those Irish politicians who have derided Trump eat humble pie and show the entire world that they are hypocrites?

There are times to be silent on the electoral affairs of another nation: this is definitely one of them. Trump has reached out to those who imagine they are disaffected, and they deeply resent outside interference, interference that will drive them to vote for Trump.

The Republicans thought they had a puppet in the Tea Party - now the Tea Party puppet is a rampant monster. The old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" appears to be with us today.

Declan Foley

Berwick, Australia

The light's on, but...

Ian O'Doherty tells us that, as a child, one of his favourite toys was a little oven with a light that you could turn on as you pretended to cook (Irish Independent, September 20). I confess to having had one of those "ovens" for the past 40 years!

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

The West is being left behind

The most recent figures on Gross Value Added (2008-2014) highlight just how deep and extensive is the economic imbalance between the best- and worst-off regions of the State.

When the numbers are averaged, Dublin is streaking ahead with €53,239 per head. However, GVA in the Border, Midland and Western (BMW) region is €23,385, in the West it's €27,168, and the Mid-West has €29,147 - respectively 44pc, 51pc and 55pc of the GVA for Dublin. In short, the further west you go, the further the regions are falling behind.

There is nothing accidental about this; it is the inevitable result of an official mindset and deliberate policy that has treated the western half of Ireland as little more than a reservation.

Dublin's economic clout has now become so commanding that, according to the Government's senior planning adviser, it is "the same in size and population terms as the next 40 towns and cities combined ... with a footprint extending from Cavan to Wexford."

Clearly, there is an urgent need for new thinking - and frankly a great deal more creativity, commitment and ambition than central Government has heretofore displayed - if this dangerous imbalance is to be corrected.

The best way to close the east-west gap in GVA is for the west, north-west and mid-west to develop a spine of infrastructure and a city of scale to counter the dominance of Dublin.

In other words, an Atlantic Economic Corridor for transport, telecoms, energy and education connectivity between Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Derry and Belfast.

This is already in the Programme for Government. So, too, is a pledge to ask the EU to revise its TEN-T Core Network map to put the BMW region back in, given that Enda Kenny's last government secretly and shamefully took it out.

That's important because it could result in up to 40pc of the critical infrastructure costs being funded by the EU.

The Wild Atlantic Way has done wonders for tourism. It's now time to develop a Wild Atlantic Highway of critical infrastructure to support the commitment to balanced national development.

Kealan Flynn

Upper Canal Road, Galway

Irish Independent

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