Government to bring in 'Jobs Budget' before visits
The Government is to introduce a 'Jobs Budget' in May, shortly before the visits of both Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama in what will be a centrepiece initiative of its first 100 days in office.
Cabinet sources said last week that the timing of the Budget just before the visits of the UK and US heads of state was "purely coincidental".
It is certain, however, that the month of May will now be a defining period for the Government which will be hoping to capitalise on the feelgood factor engendered by the visits.
The Jobs Budget is expected to implement all of the measures contained in the Programme for Government to develop a strategy that will "allow job growth and sustainable enterprise".
The initiative could not come at a more important time: last week figures released by the Central Statistics Office showed that the seasonally adjusted rate of joblessness was 14.7 per cent, a full percentage point higher than had been previously estimated.
The Programme for Government states that every person who leaves the dole and goes back to work reduces the deficit by an estimated €20,000 and spends on average an additional €15,000 on goods and services.
In its programme, the Government promises to resource a jobs fund that will:
- Provide resources for an additional 15,000 places in training, work experience and education opportunities for those who are out of work.
- Cut the 13.5 per cent rate of Vat to 12 per cent up to the end of 2013.
- Halve the lower 8.5 per cent rate of PRSI up to the end of 2013 on jobs paying up to €356 per week.
- Reverse the cut in the minimum wage.
- Abolish the travel tax as part of a deal with airlines to restore lost routes.
- Implement a number of "sectoral initiatives" in areas that will "create employment in the domestic economy".
- Initiate a long-term strategy to "develop new markets in emerging economies".
- Secure additional resources for the national housing energy retrofitting plan, as part of a plan to phase out subsidies in this area by 2014.
- Expand eligibility for the back to education allowance. l Accelerate capital works that are 'shovel ready' and labour incentives, including schools and secondary roads.
The programme also promises to put in place a "parallel, commercial-financed" investment programme in "key networks" of the economy to support demand and employment in the short-term and to provide the basis for "sustainable, export-led jobs and growth for the next generation".
There are also a range of initiatives proposed in the "green jobs" area.
The opposition parties, particularly Fianna Fail, will be interested to see how the Government proposes to finance these various initiatives.
In an interview with the Sunday Independent before the election, Enda Kenny, now the Taoiseach, promised to pump €350m into a range of measures aimed at job creation and boosting local businesses.