Wednesday 21 November 2018

Noonan to deliver next Budget on 14 October

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Niall O’Connor Political Correspondent

THE Government’s next Budget will likely be delivered on October 14, it was revealed today.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan confirmed the date for Budget 2015 – the first to be implemented following Ireland’s bailout exit.

However, Mr Noonan said a new secretary general in his department may not be appointed until July.

The position will soon lie vacant following the surprise retirement of John Moran just two years into his contract.

Mr Noonan today said he is keen to hire Mr Moran’s replacement over the next two months due to the high level of pre budgetary work that must be carried out.

“Now last year, because the Budget was brought forward, all out tax people had to take their holidays in July or later because they were working through August,” he said.

“So I would like a new gen sec in place in the second half of July,” he added.

Mr Noonan said the budget will be likely be delivered on October 14 but he said it could take place the following day.

The announcement of the date for the Budget is set to spark the traditional pre-budget kite flying by government ministers.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin today said he is confident that spending in the department of health can be brought under control.

There is intense pressure on Health Minister James Reilly to ensure that spending targets are not exceeded.

His cabinet colleague, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, last week infuriated Fine Gael figures by warning that any significant savings must be found in Dr Reilly’s department.

It was further revealed in recent days that the HSE exceeded its budget by €54m in the first two months of the year if what will prove extremely concerning for Dr Reilly.

However, Mr Howlin today said he is not overly concerned over the prospect of the department missing its targets.

Meanwhile, the Government’s proposal to make it easier for first time buyers to get a mortgage is aimed at boosting the supply of houses and to encourage the construction sector, Mr Noonan said this morning.

Mr Noonan said guaranteeing a portion of the mortgages to first-time buyers would help increase the number of people capable of buying houses, and thereby boost supply.

“We think it’s an idea worth exploring . It’s to deal with supply. The builders will respond to people who want to buy houses,” Mr Noonan said.

“If by guaranteeing part of a mortgage, there are more people capable of buying houses, that will drive supply. So the whole emphasis is to try and increase the supply of houses.”

But he stressed the government was only exploring the issue at this stage, and said a full independent analysis would be sought.

Mr Howlin said the Government was trying to ratchet up construction to a sustainable level, not a bubble level.

“There is no fear of us going back to a number of single policy items that would overheat the construction sector or any other sector again. It is to look at how to bring back a construction sector to a normal sustainable level of activity,” Mr Howlin said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday that the plan was to help young couples get on the property ladder and rejected suggestions it could lead to another property bubble.

Mr Noonan also said that the probable date of this year’s Budget would be October 14, and claimed he would like a new Secretary General for the Department of Finance in place by the second half of July.

It was announced earlier this month that current Secretary General John Moran would be stepping down.

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