'I'm not in the prediction business but we will soldier on' - Noonan talks future budgets
Michael Noonan said his future as Finance Minister depends on how long the Government remains in office and Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s judgement.
Asked if next year will be his last budget, Mr Noonan said: “sure everything depends on the Taoiseach and the longevity of the Government.”
“I’m not in the prediction business but we’ll soldier on,” he added.
Speaking to Independent.ie, Mr Noonan admitted the cuts to the Universal Social Charge (USC) in Tuesday’s budget were modest but insisted he they continue to phase out the tax in future years.
"The USC cuts were very modest because the emphasis on today's budget was to use the resources we have to repair public services.
"That's why we have €900m extra going into healthcare, that's why there is a very big package for childcare, that's why we have 1,500 extra guards. That's why there is a commitment to have 4,500 extra teachers," he said.
“The policy commitments mapped out today are built on the programme for government and it is the start of the road forward and in the next budget I hope there will be a continuation of the plan to reduce USC with the objective working it our completely but it will take five years. It will take up to 2021 in our estimation,” he said.
Mr Noonan explained that there had been no increases in social welfare, apart from €3 on the pension, since 2008.
"It had to come," he said. "We can't allow people who are on dependent on welfare to be left behind either."
He said he also expects to increase welfare payments next year but this will “depend on circumstances”.
On accusations from Fianna Fail that the Budget’s Brexit proofing measures were “pathetic”, Mr Noonan said you “can’t make provisions against something that hasn’t happened yet”
However, he added: “I have introduced a whole series of specific measures for different sectors that feel threatened.”