Saturday 7 December 2019

Durkan wrong to be dismissive

Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin have both talked of the Government's intention to steer clear of the so-called boom and bust cycle that has characterised Ireland in the past and caused the country so much heartache.

A necessary element of this new prudent culture is to have a team of experts keeping watch over the Government's actions - any government, regardless of political hue - and ensure it doesn't lose the run of itself amid political pressures from the electorate.

Enter the Fiscal Advisory Council.

Some may have dismissed its most recent pronouncement that the Government should stick with the planned €2bn adjustment, even though Mr Noonan has suggested no further tax hikes or spending cuts will be necessary. Mr Noonan will ignore the Council himself, although he may have solid arguments for doing so on this occasion.

But the remarks from one Fine Gael TD yesterday signalled a worrying attitude.

"I note the advice from the Fiscal Advisory Council who seem to know better than we do at the coal face," noted Bernard Durkan.

You've missed the point, Bernard. The Council's role is to point out the risks and remind the Government of the economics.

The Government might claim the boom and bust of the past is gone, but when dismissive remarks such as those from Mr Durkan are employed, The Punt has very little faith that this is the case.

Irish Independent

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