Monday 19 March 2018

Labour plan to fix public finances 'not yet costed'

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore yesterday admitted he hasn't costed some of his proposals to fix the public finances.

Mr Gilmore proposed a voluntary redundancy scheme for as many as 15,000 public sector workers, a plan he said would save €1.4bn.

But he admitted he did not know -- and had not costed -- how much the massive redundancy payouts would cost.

He said a voluntary redundancy scheme for workers had to be included in any reform of the public sector.

"You should be looking, I think, at something in the order of 15,000," Mr Gilmore said.

"The savings in total on payroll is about €1.4bn," he told RTE Radio's 'This Week'.

He said the cost of redundancy packages would depend on the grades of people who volunteered for the scheme.

Mr Gilmore said the state workforce was 350,000 strong. There are currently 308,000 people working in the public service. His spokesman said he had used an estimated figure.

Mr Gilmore also refused to provide a figure for the amount of cuts and taxes he would introduce in the next four years.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has said €15bn has to be saved, based on annual average growth of 2.75pc until 2014.

"The €15bn seems to me to be a figure they have plucked out of the air," Mr Gilmore said. "We can't play this game of what's the number, but I have set out a mix of measures."

He said Labour needed the Government to give it the growth forecast for next year, but dismissed estimates by Davy Stockbrokers and the ESRI and said, "anyone can come up with a figure". Mr Gilmore said Labour finance spokesperson Joan Burton hadn't been given sufficient information by the Department of Finance in briefings over the past two weeks.

The Department of Finance said the briefings were confidential.

But, in contrast to the Labour position, Fine Gael's Michael Noonan said he was satisfied with the information he was getting.

Irish Independent

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