Wednesday 23 October 2019

Labour unveils plan for cuts

Party would use pension levy, pay pause to save €2bn

Michael Brennan Political Correspondent

LABOUR leader Eamon Gilmore has backed the concept of a "fair" pension levy on public sector workers as part of his plan to achieve €2bn in spending cuts.

Although his party is bringing forward a Dail motion next week to oppose the Government's €1.4bn levy in its current form, he said that public sector workers were prepared to make an additional contribution to their pensions.

"But that has to be done fairly and it has to distinguish between those who are making a contribution and those who aren't, and it particularly has to distinguish between those who are on low pay and those who are on higher levels of pay," he said.

Support

Mr Gilmore was speaking after the latest opinion poll put Labour as the second most popular party due to a 10pc surge in support.

His party had been criticised by Fianna Fail for failing to show where it would implement €2bn in spending cuts, but yesterday it finally produced a list of proposals.

They include:



  • The abolition of interest relief on rental properties for landlords (€800m).
  • Full tax rates on tax exiles, because "if you want to be part of Irish society and benefit from it you pay like anyone else", (€175m).
  • Lower the pension cap tax relief from €150,000 to €100,000, (€186m).


l Abandoning the plan to co-locate private clinics on the grounds of public hospitals, which would have cost €1 bn over seven years (€140m per year).

Mr Gilmore said the €20bn public sector pay bill could also be reduced by a pay pause (which could save €250m this year) and other measures.

"I imagine there are quite a number who would be willing to take unpaid leave and career breaks, all of which would reduce your pay bill," he said.

He repeated his party's demands for a job creation strategy, which he said was the only way to reduce the average €20,000 cost to the exchequer for every job lost.

Mr Gilmore said that his party would "not lose the run of itself" due to its strong 24pc rating in the opinion polls, which was 2pc ahead of Fianna Fail. But he said that there was now a "three-horse race" for Taoiseach between himself, Brian Cowen and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny.

Mr Gilmore also warned that there could be an early election due to the fact that only 14pc of the electorate had indicated they were satisfied with the Government.

"I think that's even worse than George Bush had at his worst point," he said.

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