Monday 23 October 2017

€2bn savings not required for Budget, says Noonan

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan pictured at Government Buildings
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan pictured at Government Buildings
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

A €2bn adjustment in the Budget won't be needed, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said.

The minister reiterated that economic data was showing that a crucial deficit target can be met with less austerity.

Ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg, Mr Noonan suggested the European Commission and International Monetary Fund (IMF) were looking at economic projections based on data that wasn't up to date.

"There's data coming through now, some of it soft data, some of it anecdotal, which seems to me we will not require that level of adjustment," Noonan said.

"But I'm not in a position to say yet how much leeway we will have.

"There's no difference in the policy position between what I'm saying and what any of the institutions are saying. Whatever it takes to get below (the) 3pc (deficit target) we'll do that. But I no longer believe it'll take €2bn."

The Fiscal Advisory Council – the state's budgetary watchdog – and IMF has said the Government should stick with the planned €2bn, while the Commission has suggested more than that should be done.

The Government must reduce the gap between how much it spends and takes in through taxes and revenue to under 3pc of the value of the economy by the end of next year. The Fiscal Advisory Council said doing anything less than €2bn would put this in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, Mr Noonan also said that he was confident that a formal investigation by Europe into the state's tax arrangements with Apple would find that the Government didn't breach any state aid rules.

The Department has said it will vigorously defend its position after EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced the much-expected in-depth investigation last week.

The inquiry relates to the Irish branches of two Apple entities – Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe – and covers the period between 2004 and 2014.

Irish Independent

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