Saturday 24 February 2018

'Nobody has any idea' how long new government will last - Noonan

Michael Noonan. Photo: Tom Burke
Michael Noonan. Photo: Tom Burke

Group Political Editor

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said “nobody has any idea” how long the new government will last.

As he announced the Department of Finance expects to have €1bnn for tax cuts and spending increases next year, Mr Noonan said it was proceeding on the basis the government will survive at least three years.

“Nobody has any idea how long this government will last. The agreement with Fianna Fáil is that we will review the position after passing the third budget so I’m planning on working towards three budgets.

“Everybody knows it’s a minority government. Everybody knows it’s the first time since the foundation of the State that we’ve tried to govern with a minority government,” he said.

“I’m not in the prediction business. All I’ll say is that as long as we’re here we’re going to manage the situation prudently.”

Mr Noonan said the Government will have €11.3bn in so-called ‘fiscal space’ between 2017 and 2021. It will be used on a 2:1 basis in favour of spending over tax reductions.

The country’s budgets will be balanced from 2018 and after that €1bn will be put into a ‘Rainy Day Fund’ every year.

“We’re redirecting policy after coming through the correction phase. After getting the economy running strongly we’re going to use the fruits of growth now to repair the services that were damaged.

“That’s why there’s greater emphasis now on spending and investment than there was,” Mr Noonan said at the launch of the ‘Summer Economic Statement’.

Asked how long he expects the Government will last, he replied: “How long the journey will last is a matter of predication. We’re not going to be put off by the uncertainty of the prospects ahead.

“We’re not going to be a ‘do nothing government’. We’re going to assume that it’s going to last and we’ll make decisions on that basis.”

He also indicated the he intends to continue with plans to abolish the much-hated Universal Social Charge by 2021.

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