| 3°C Dublin

FG struggles over its sums for second day

FINE Gael's claims to be a low-tax party took another hit yesterday as it changed its ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes.

Just a day after finance spokesman Michael Noonan said there was slippage in the party's approach to taxes and spending, enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton confirmed a climbdown from claims made before the Budget that the party would cut €3 of spending for every extra euro raised in taxes.

On Wednesday Mr Noonan admitted the ratio was closer to €2 for every euro in higher taxes.

Mr Bruton yesterday said Fine Gael now favoured a cuts-to-tax ratio of 72pc to 28pc. Labour proposes reducing the deficit by cutting and taxing in equal measure.

"We will be launching our fiscal policy for the years 2012 to 2014 and I can tell you the balance that we will strike between spending adjustment and tax will be 72pc on the spending side and 28pc on the tax side," Mr Bruton said at the FG jobs policy launch in Dublin.

"That balance is vital because we know from international experience that if you seek to solve a fiscal crisis by pushing up taxes, you will fail, you will kill jobs."

It came as Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said FG claims that it was a "low tax" party were "simply bogus".

"They are hiding behind our policies. It is disingenuous and shows that Fine Gael can't be trusted on the adjustment," Mr Lenihan said.

But Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny hit back and said Mr Lenihan of all people could not criticise other people's figures.

"This is the man who said that NAMA would provide a wall of credit," Mr Kenny said. "Brian Lenihan said we had more green shoots and more corners turned in the last 12 months that any previous Minister for Finance."

There was also another change on the party's "New Era" plan, with communications spokesman Leo Varadkar saying it was still his hope it could create 100,000 jobs. Mr Varadkar also said it could create even more than that -- just a day after the party said it would create 80,000 jobs.

The policy is a key part of FG's election proposals but has been changed three times.

Irish Independent