Wednesday 16 October 2019

Howlin strikes back over criticism of economic plans

Brendan Howlin
Brendan Howlin

Niall O'Connor

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has hit back at criticism of his handling of the purse strings as the Coalition prepares to deliver its final Budget ahead of the general election.

Mr Howlin claimed that, since being appointed Public Expenditure Minister, he has never been accused of acting in a "prolific or extravagant" fashion in relation to spending.

The Labour minister insisted that "prudent governing" will continue to be the Coalition's hallmark as it approaches October's Budget.

And he strongly hit out at economist and Irish Independent columnist Dan O'Brien, who last week suggested that Mr Howlin doesn't appreciate the dangers of a giveaway budget next October.

In the article, Mr O'Brien accused the Cabinet minister of taking issue with "anyone with the view that it is unwise to splash out with borrowed money...".

Responding to the article, Mr Howlin said: "I read Dan O'Brien's piece, I heard his comments over the weekend as well. Everybody is entitled to a view. Dan is of the view that I'm not entitled to my view that somehow, in having a view not in accordance with Dan's, is stifling public debate, that's odd."

Mr Howlin made the remarks as the IMF warned that Ireland must do more to cut down on its borrowing and cautioned against a giveaway budget.

He said he has never been accused of being flippant with spending.

"I think of all the criticism levelled against me as Minister for Public Expenditure, being prolific or extravagant with the public purse is not one I've endured for the last four and a half years," he said.

"We have moved from having one of the biggest deficits of any developed country, into having a deficit of below 3pc of GDP. Every step of the way, we were ahead of what we promised and that will continue to be the hallmark of this Government, prudent governing."

Irish Independent

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