Budget 2019 Explainer: This year’s big budget players and what you need to know about them
With Budget 2019 looming all eyes will be on Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe when he takes to his feet in the Dáil chamber on Tuesday.
This year again the narrative emerging from government buildings is that there is a limited amount to spend and what is there must be used prudently. But as the final budget in the Confidence & Supply deal the prospect that this may well turn out to be the last before the next General Election isn’t too far from the minds of many. We look at the key budget players and what’s at stake for them.
The Finance Minister has faced a tough balancing act each year during his tenure and this year is no different. With around €800m to play around with the minister is keen to stick to his party’s message that they are breaking the cycle of boom and bust. There will be limited tax breaks for people with Fine Gael focusing on the ‘squeezed middle’ who they say begin paying higher taxes too soon. The Dublin Central TD has been playing his cards close to his chest in the run up to his anticipated speech.
Budget 2019 is the final budget of the Confidence & Supply Agreement that has underpinned the government since 2016. For Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin the stakes are high; he needs to be able to point to a number of wins that the party have secured, in housing in particular. With some of his TDs suggesting that the agreement should not be renewed after this budget there will be even more pressure on Mr Martin to ensure that his party’s record over the three budgets stands up to scrutiny – either to help sell a renewal to his membership or to show the electorate that the party has delivered during this Dáil term.
The Independent Alliance will be keenly aware of the potential for their position in government to become precarious if the deal between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil is not renewed. Their budget negotiations have been fraught to date with rows erupting over a plan to raise the 9pc VAT rate for the hospitality sector and one of their flagship ideas – the so-called ‘granny grant’ being ruled out. A tension emerged between the Alliance and the government colleagues over the Alliance's perceived focus on measures for the elderly but the Alliance are claiming a win in relation to the restoration of the Christmas Bonus for social welfare recipients.
The Independent minister faces this year’s budget in the context of Ireland’s poor record on tackling climate change and the idea that this budget will have to be ‘green’ has been long flagged by government.. There will be a hike in carbon tax – which will add to people’s fuel and commuting costs –the size of the hike is not yet known but it is expected to rise for €20 per tonne to €30. Mr Naughten will also be seeking funding for initiatives to encourage people to move to greener vehicles.
The embattled housing minister has seen off a motion of no confidence in recent weeks but the protest outside Leinster House this week as part of the Raise the Roof campaign will have underlined the public feeling on the housing crisis. The Dublin Bay South TD will need to walk away with a sizeable budget commitment this year.