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Wednesday 24 January 2018

Pensions superlevy axed from new jobs package

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny's election promise to impose a superlevy on pension funds will not be delivered in the forthcoming jobs package.

The imposition of a 0.5pc levy on private pension funds had been promised by his party during the general election -- but it will not be used to fund the €220m cost of implementing PRSI cuts and other measures in the jobs package expected next month.

The Department of Finance confirmed the pension levy plan had been left out of the Programme for Government and was not currently on the agenda.

It came after claims from Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin that several of Fine Gael's high-profile election pledges had been "abandoned or stuck in reverse" after only five weeks in Government.

Mr Kenny was forced to admit in the Dail yesterday he had changed the name of the jobs budget to a jobs initiative because people were expecting a full Budget with tax hikes.

But he dismissed opposition criticism about the name change by saying it would provide an economic stimulus -- with the the measures expected to include a cut in employers' PRSI and up to 15,000 training places.

"With 440,000 out of work, a 14pc unemployment rate, the person who gets a job as a plumber, plasterer, chippy or whatever will not be worried whether it is a budget or a jobs initiative," Mr Kenny said.

There had also been confusion recently about the Government's commitment to reversing the €1 cut in the minimum wage -- with questions raised over whether it would be allowed under the updated bailout deal.

But Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said he expected the change to be in the new memorandum of understanding with the EU and IMF to be published tomorrow.

And he indicated that the Government was making the argument that greater savings could be made by making changes to joint labour committee agreements which govern pay rates in the hotel and restaurant sectors and others.


"Clearly there are rigid systems in relation to Sunday working and some of the overtime settlements. But it also goes into things like travel to work. Some of them are extraordinarily detailed and certainly don't fit into a modern labour market," he said.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said yesterday that the Government was still committed to reversing the cut in the minimum wage.

But it needs to get the agreement of the IMF, EU and ECB because the cut was part of the €85bn bailout deal.

These three bodies -- known as the 'troika" -- are due to hold a news conference tomorrow to comment on the outcome of their review of the first three months of the bailout deal.

Irish Independent

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