Taoiseach's 'difficult budget' vow
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has claimed the upcoming budget will be the last difficult one endured by Ireland as it claws its way back to recovery.
As Government ministers begin talks on how they intend to make savings of 3.1 billion euro in the October budget, the Taoiseach indicated the squeeze will have eased by 2015.
"This is not going to be an easy budget," Mr Kenny said. "We've already pointed out that this will be the last difficult budget. But whatever way you approach it, it's never easy after the difficult decisions that have been taken in the previous two budgets."
Mr Kenny said the Government will continue its work with the forthcoming budget for 2014 and those for the two following years until the end of its five-year term. "Hopefully we'll keep our economy on track here and this should be the last of the difficult budgets and hopefully things can improve," he said.
Ireland's debt masters the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Thursday urged the Government to stick to its plan for a 3.1 billion euro adjustment in the budget.
Despite savings on the country's debt repayments that will cut its borrowing costs by 40 billion euro over the next 10 years, the IMF, following its 11th review of the bailout programme, said Ireland should stay on its path of austerity.
The IMF's mission chief for Ireland Craig Beaumont advised Ireland to focus on the monetary savings it intends to make as opposed to driving down its deficit. This year's budget is expected to reduce the deficit target to 5.1% of gross domestic product (GDP). The Taoiseach said he hopes to have reduced it further to around 3% by 2015.
"That obviously depends on how we adjust our budgets," Mr Kenny said. "Clearly the IMF are entitled to their viewpoint but we are set on achieving the target of a deficit below 3% for 2015."
He confirmed Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has already begun talks with Government ministers to discuss how they intend to make savings in their respective departments.
The Taoiseach made his comments after outlining a progress report on the Government's Action Plan for Jobs. He revealed 160 out of 182 measures had been completed in the second quarter - an 89% completion rate.