Sunday 25 February 2018

Style vs substance: Everything you need to know ahead of Leo's first budget

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Bobo the dog at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Meeting in the Minella Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
Pic:Mark Condren
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Bobo the dog at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Meeting in the Minella Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Pic:Mark Condren
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meets with newly weds Ian and Eleanor Walsh from Kilmacow county Kilkenny on the final day of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Meeting in the Minella Hotel, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Pic:Mark Condren
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Photo: Mark Condren
Leo Varadkar's who was elected Fine Gael leader is congratulated by Simon Coveney Pic: Mark Condren
Leo Varadkar at the Mansion House minutes after being elected the new leader of Fine Gael
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar and Senator Eamonn Coghlan who took part in the St Stephen's day Goal Mile in Porterstown Park, Castleknock. Pic:Mark Condren 26.12.2012
REVIEW: Leo Varadkar
John Downing

John Downing

Budget 2018 will prove an important test for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and will be his first chance to show what the government has in store to further his vision for a 'republic of opportunity'. Here is everything you need to know ahead of the big day.

His name is on it:

Sixteen weeks after he was elected Taoiseach, his Government’s first Budget is a huge test. Unlike many predecessors going back two decades – Enda Kenny, Brian Cowen, and Bertie Ahern – his name is already on this one. The former Taoisigh took a back seat before Budget day. Leo Varadkar has been very strident.

It is a case of share the limelight, share the blame:

He is hand-in-glove with his Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe, on this one. But unlike the solo Budget act of his predecessor, veteran Michael Noonan, Paschal Donohoe must share the spotlight. If it goes wrong they will both share the blame. 

There has been many slogans:

Leo Varadkar wants to help “people who get up early in the morning” and who “pay for everything.”  But these are slogans from his internal Fine Gael leadership campaign. He must show these are more than political guff. But, by signalling some tax cuts will happen in this Budget, he has set the bar very high for himself.

He lacks money and Dáil numbers: 

The Government lacks money because under EU rules it must deliver its first break-even Budget in 10 years. Of a total €58bn spend, he needs to stretch beyond the €350m spare cash for tax cuts and service improvements. Also, leading a minority coalition he has to keep a lot of demanding people on board.

And there's the little matter of Fianna Fáil:

Unless he gets the nod of opposition leader, Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar will have no Budget - and we’ll have an election.  At minimum Fianna Fáil must abstain to allow Budget 2018 go through. That means Martin & Co must be allowed show their Budget wins. It’s a tricky balancing act.

Ray MacSharry, Minister for Finance, holds aloft the Budget Bag.
Ray MacSharry, Minister for Finance, holds aloft the Budget Bag. "Mac the Knife" delivered a tough budget. Fiscal rectitude was the phrase of the day. The budget targeted the public service, imposing a pay freeze and an embargo on recruitment. It put an end to a number of housing grants, and travellers who left the country for less than 48 hours were no longer entitled to duty-free goods. A £10 charge for hospital outpatients was also introduced. April 1987
Finance Minister Michael Noonan pictured with Budget 2016
Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy pictured today his office holding up his budget speech contained on a disc inside a transparent briefcase
Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin and Finance Minister Michael Noonan pose with Budget 2016 outside the Dail. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Finance Minister Brian Cowen pictured on Budget Day at the Department of Finance on December 5 2007
Charlie McCreevy, then Minister for Finance in 2001
Charlie McCreevy, then Minister for Finance in 2001 Photo: Tom Burke
Stills from the Dail on the afternoon of Budget 2011 Finance Minsiter Brian Lenihan.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Government Buildings as he gave a live televised address to the nation on Budget 2012 .
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan TD at the the steps of Government Buildings prior to delivering Budget 2013
Budget 2008 is launched by Finance Minister Brian Cowen, with wife Mary and daughters Sinead, 16, and Maedhbh, 9, at a photocall in the Department of Finance
Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan TD during the announcement of Budget 2009 at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan TD delivers the Budget 2010 live from Leinster House shown on a bank of televisions in D. I. D Electrical, Lucan, Co. Dublin.
Finance Minister Alan Dukes,TD with his Budget Bag on Budget Day 29 January 1986.

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