Sunday 21 January 2018

Do we need a new voice in politics?

Each week public spending -- €1,031m -- is outstripping total revenue -- €656m -- by €374m. That is €374m that has to be borrowed each week just to keep the public sector, and the services it provides, in existence. If you surveyed the Irish political landscape last week you might be forgiven for forgetting that. Nor will you have found any politician reminding you that the total number on the Live Register is currently 440,000. Admittedly, when you strip out those who are between jobs, or qualify for social welfare but work part-time, the true unemployed figure is 275,000, or 12.9 per cent. But of that number, 112,000 are classified as long-term unemployed. And, worryingly, that latter figure is rising.

None of this got an airing in the Dail last week. Nor did the fact that there will be no increase in GNP this year, and the most optimistic forecast (from the ESRI report in April) can only see a 2.75 per cent increase next year. GNP growth, unlike GDP, is job-focussed and tax revenue-focussed. If it is not happening, there will be no new jobs.

Against that background you might have been surprised -- more likely you would have been shocked -- by the admission from the chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank, Michael Aynsley, that not a single cent of the €22bn the government, on behalf of the taxpayer, is giving to that toxic institution, will ever be repaid. It was variously referred to as having "gone down the toilet" or gone "into a black hole". Worse, we now hear (from Mr Aynsley) that there is no guarantee that this €22bn will get the job done. Anglo could be back for more.

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