Friday 23 February 2018

Sinn Fein proposes €100,000 cap for public sector workers

Brian Hutton

ALL WORKERS earning up to €75,000 will be better off under Budget plans drawn up by Sinn Fein, the party has claimed.

It has proposed a €100,000 cap on public sector pay, the abolition of the universal social charge, a 1pc wealth tax and a third 48pc tax rate targeting the better off.

Pearse Doherty, the party's finance spokesman, said the measures would go towards funding a €7bn jobs package while protecting lower and middle income earners.

"Everybody earning up to €75,000 will be actually be better off under the direct taxation, under Sinn Fein's proposal," he said.

"For those above €100,000, we genuinely believe that it is fair and right to ask them to pay seven cent more on each euro that they earn above that figure."

Sinn Fein's alternative to the government's plans would demand those who earn most pay most, and would take half a million people out of the tax net, he said.

The proposals include a 1pc wealth tax on assets of more than €1m, but not including farmland, business assets and a fifth of the value of main homes worth more than a million euro.

A new third tax rate band of 48pc would apply to incomes of more than €100,000.

Arguing for the universal social charge to be scrapped, Mr Doherty said the reintroduction of the health levy and income levy, at a lower rate of 1pc on income up to €75,000, would be fairer.

The seven billion euro jobs stimulus programme would come from €5.3bn from the National Pension Reserve Fund and another €1.7bn from the European Investment Bank.

Sinn Fein said the three-year investment plan would create 60,000 jobs and thousands more indirectly while saving 96,000 jobs.

A further €2.5bn would be pumped into rolling out high-speed broadband with another €1bn injected into wind generation projects, creating 50,000 jobs over 15 years.

The party has ruled out household and water charges, VAT increases, any rise in student fees, septic tank charges and excise duty hikes. It also vowed not to reduce social welfare, frontline public services and the capital budget.

Sinn Fein also said it would provide for every child in the state to get a free hot meal at lunchtime in school as well as a money-saving book scheme.

Promising to lift the recruitment freeze on nurses, teachers and gardai, the party said it would create 3,500 extra frontline jobs.

It also outlined plans to build 150 new state-run creches, 100 more schools, with the refurbishment of another 75, and the construction of 50 new healthcare centres.

Mr Doherty said waste-saving measures would include capping public sector pay at 100,000 euro, including that of semi-state chief executives, slashing state board fees by a quarter, with similar cuts on professional charges to the public sector.

Government salaries would be capped at €100,000, TDs at €75,000 and senators at €60,000, it states in its pre-Budget submission.

The party has also argued for a 5pc tax on online gambling as part of its €4bn adjustment package.

Mr Doherty said Ireland would remain classified as a low-tax state under the proposals, which, apart from the wealth tax, had been fully costed by the Department of Finance.

Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein president, said his party was offering "citizen-centred" policies that would lead to a recovery in the economy.

"The government has a choice," he said.

"It can choose to carry on with the failed austerity measures of Fianna Fail or it can choose to implement a budget which is fair and which cherishes children instead of bond-holders."

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