Friday 20 April 2018

It's a marathon -- but even a bronze looks good

The National Recovery Plan isn't convincing anyone, yet we're still up for the fightback, says Marc Coleman

It may have been someone with a sick sense of humour. But if they were serious, whoever gave the "National Recovery Plan" its name isn't convincing anyone. Financial markets have roundly rejected the plan. So, effectively, has the EU Commission which responded to it on Thursday by cutting our growth forecast for 2011 to below 1 per cent.

It isn't hard to see why: its spending cuts are vague to the point of being meaningless. Where it should cut excessive pay and pensions, it cuts jobs. Where it should privatise, it cuts social welfare. Where it should scrap quangos and merge local authorities, it raises VAT, income tax and property taxes.

It is also incompetent beyond belief. In March 2009 Brian Lenihan admitted that the 0.5 per cent rise in VAT inflicted in the October 2008 Budget cost the economy €700m. Now the plan expects to raise taxes from a 2 per cent rise in VAT.

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