Lenihan accused of raising tax by stealth and 'flunking' on jobs
FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan was last night accused of conducting a "tinkering exercise" with the economy, rather than having any big ideas.
Mr Lenihan said the Finance Bill, which he published yesterday, strikes a balance between supporting business in the economic recovery and enhanced the ability of the Revenue Commissioners to carry out their work.
"It also ensures that all sectors play their part in stabilising the public finances and thereby restoring domestic and international confidence in our economy," he said.
The minister pointed to the "pro-enterprise taxation measures" in the bill, which he said will put us in the position to take advantage of the recovery.
But Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Bruton said Mr Lenihan had "flunked" the jobs challenge. Instead of a jobs stimulus, the public got stealth taxes on tolls, bin charges and parking fees, he said.
"It's depressing to witness the lack of ambition and vision displayed in the Government's Finance Bill when set against the scale of Ireland's economic challenges. It is simply not fit for purpose. Thousands of struggling households will be bitterly disappointed that the hoped-for stimulus for jobs has not materialised," he said.
Mr Bruton said the bill was just a tinkering exercise and made life easier for the Revenue and tax advisers.
Labour Party finance spokesperson Joan Burton said the bill will mean extra hardship due to the proposal to charge VAT on a range of local authority services.
"In contrast with administrations around the world, there are no proposals from the minister to introduce tax curbs on the super-sized remuneration packages of top executives or those working in financial services," she said.
Mr Lenihan said that in the last Budget, the Government chose to reduce expenditure rather than increase taxes. He said this was done on the basis that tackling the cost of running the State is the most effective strategy for returning the economy to growth.
"By addressing our cost base in the successive budgets over the past 18 months, we have improved our competitive position and gained market share," he said.