Sunday 26 May 2019

Varadkar sees scope for more efficiencies in Budget

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Kevin Doyle and Gavin McLoughlin

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated that he sees the potential for major savings through "efficiencies" in Budget 2019.

He said the country was spending €60bn every year but people will obsess with the €800m of 'new money' available for the budget.

"I'm convinced that within that €60bn there has to be scope to increase the efficiencies," he said.

"Of all of the areas of public expenditure, health probably demands the greatest level of reform."

Speaking at the launch of the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin yesterday, the Taoiseach said €15bn will be spent on health but the results achieved with that money are not enough.

"It's one of the highest level of expenditures per head of anywhere in the world, which given our relatively youthful population is hard to understand.

"Even during the recession, health spending in Ireland per head was above the average," he said.

Mr Varadkar said it was evident that "the problems we face in healthcare are about a lot more than staff and more resources and more buildings".

He compared health to education where he said "largely speaking" the system works.

"In our education system every school has a board, every university has a board. There are people in charge and people are accountable. That's something we don't have in our health service and is something I think needs to fundamentally change."

The National Economic Dialogue brings politicians and various lobby groups together ahead of the budgetary process.

The upcoming budget poses challenges for the Government amid warnings the economy could overheat and the threat posed by external events, such as Brexit. There are also concerns some foreign businesses may leave amid changes to international tax rules.

Ashoka Mody, former head of the IMF's operation in Ireland, has said this country will find it "hard to sustain economic momentum" amid these changes.

Irish Independent

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