Monday 19 March 2018

All parties must bite fiscal bullet

THE Fine Gael and Labour teams who were briefed on the fiscal correction programme by Finance Department officials yesterday had expected to hear bad news. Their leaders, Michael Noonan and Joan Burton, found the news worse than they had foreseen.

Both parties agree with the Government's objective, to reduce the Budget deficit to 3pc of gross domestic product by 2014. Both agreed initially with the first target, spending cuts and tax increases totalling 3pc in this year's Budget in December. Neither took serious issue with the revised projection of 4.3pc which came, apparently by inadvertence, into the public domain.

But although the precise figures for this year and over the four-year period remained unclear yesterday, one thing was starkly, shockingly clear. Ms Burton described the information given to her and Mr Noonan as "very challenging" and "pretty horrific".

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