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Tuesday 12 November 2019

Childcare, schools and gardai set for a cash boost, Howlin


Philip Ryan and  Niall O'Connor

PUBLIC Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has declared it's time for the Government to "start spending again" as the Coalition prepares to unveil its first 'spring statement'.

Mr Howlin revealed the Government will begin pumping more money into childcare, education, health and gardai in a move the Opposition will see as an attempt to buy the next election.

However, the minister insisted that any new government spending or tax cuts would not put the recovery at risk.

He said people have come through a period when they were afraid, due to an "existential threat to our survival" but are now asking: "What am I going to get back?"

"We said we'd have a deficit below 3pc in 2015, we've achieved that, despite the countervailing backdrops worsening [and] even more challenging than we expected in 2011, we achieved that and now we have to set out where we want to start spending again," he added.

The minister's comments come the day before the Government is expected to announce the financial resources available for spending and tax cuts ahead of the next budget.

The precise details of this spending will be debated over the coming months but it will focus on the plight of middle- and lower-income earners, who are expected to receive tax cuts.

The public sector is also set to benefit from the increased budget and a loosening of EU rules on government spending.


The minister would not indicate how much money he had to spend but said the €700m additional funding the Fiscal Advisory Council suggested was an "underestimation"

Mr Howlin said he will make an announcement on capital spending in June which will include new schools, primary care centres and childcare projects.

These projects will be a mixture of public private partnerships and fully State-funded builds. He also pledged to invest in technology for An Garda Siochana.

In the spring Statement, the Government will set out a plan it believes will lead to 2.1m people being employed by 2018.

However, it will warn that a reversal of reforms and significant tax cuts will put the country's recovery at risk.

The statement will mention Department of Finance research that claims this would reduce growth and lead to 20,000 fewer jobs by 2020.

Measures aimed at convincing Irish people living abroad to return home will also be unveiled. The Government is to use the statement to convince Irish professionals living abroad it is time to return.

The statement will pledge income tax cuts, particularly for those earning between €35,000 and €70,000, both next year and beyond the General Election.

Government sources say the tax strategy is aimed at securing neutral migration next year.

"We are predicting a rush of Irish emigrants returning. It is of enormous importance to the Irish psyche and to confidence," said a senior source.



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