Time for the minister to take responsibility
The proposed change in the rate of Universal Service Charge (USC) on medical card holders earning less than €60,000 – from 4pc to 7pc – is disturbing for several reasons, not least the Minister for Finance's attempt to portray this as a Fianna Fail measure with a 'sunset clause' which really has nothing to do with him.
Michael Noonan, who celebrates his 71st birthday next Wednesday, did not introduce this clause and obviously sees the controversy that has arisen as an unwelcome birthday present.
USC, we all accept, was introduced by the previous government. Despite his undoubted ability and the fact that he has helped rescue this country from one of the greatest calamities in the history of the State over the past three years, Mr Noonan must remember that he is Minister for Finance and, no matter who introduced this measure, responsibility for it now rests with him and it is within his remit to change it if he wishes.