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Sunday 25 February 2018

Q & A: Noonan gets the funds by robbing Peter to pay Paul

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

How many jobs will it create?

There will be 6,000 jobs created from the increased spending on 'shovel ready' construction projects. But Taoiseach Enda Kenny resisted giving estimates of how many other jobs might be created, saying that it was impossible to predict. The Government's aim is to stimulate economic growth -- and rely on that growth to create jobs.

How much will it cost?

The plan will cost around €390m this year but this will rise in future years as the measures take full effect. In total it is expected to cost around €2bn. But the Government is making sure it pays for it by introducing a pension levy which will bring in €470m per year.

Where is the Government getting the money to pay for more spending on small construction projects?

It's a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Some of the road repairs will be paid for because the planned Marlborough Street bridge in Dublin has suffered contractual delays and because buses due to arrive this year won't be here until next year. The Department of Education is also using money from delayed third-level capital projects.

Is it ironic that the Government is planning to cut 25,000 public sector jobs yet talking about creating more of them in its Jobs Initiative?

Not according to Finance Minister Michael Noonan. He said that the numbers in the public service had to be reduced -- and it was the private sector that had to create the extra jobs needed. But the Government's official forecast is still gloomy -- it is predicting the creation of 100,000 extra jobs in the economy over the next three years at a time when 430,000 are out of work.

Any clever ideas?

The new visa scheme to allow non-EU tourists visiting Britain to come here for 14 days too is smart. Mr Noonan said the key target group were the Chinese tourists now arriving in London in their droves. He said they were as visible with their cameras as Japanese tourists once were.

How is this different to a normal Budget?

The plan does not contain tax hikes, social welfare changes or specific cuts to frontline public services.

But there is some pain for private pension holders?

Yes. The 0.6pc annual levy on private pensions will decrease the value of their pensions. Mr Noonan promised to time limit this in his forthcoming legislation -- so that it will only last for four years.

Irish Independent

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