Sunday 26 January 2020

Perish troika

• I am shocked to hear the estimated government spending on the treaty referendum. The spin doctors will be delighted.

Let's not waste a good crisis, or referendum for that matter. Why not afford us some value for money for once and make this a triple-header referendum?

Allow us vote not just on the fiscal treaty, but on removing corrupt TDs' pensions/reform in general of all TDs' pensions, and the abolition of the Seanad, too?

The turnout, given the opportunity to vote on the last two, would be only mighty, but the crack of the whip, resounding from the backlash? Sure that would be no craic at all for the boys and girls of Leinster House or for their chums in the Seanad.

Cracks would begin to appear in the facade that is the crony-style politics of Leinster House, causing this old condemned institution to hopefully come tumbling down.

Denis Doyle
Bray, Co Wicklow

• When our economy imploded in 2010, the bailout provided by the troika was calculated on the best estimates of how long it would take Ireland to balance its day-to-day income and expenditure, and those best estimates said this could be achieved by about 2014/15.

The troika was also able to take advantage of a weak government, for whom no stroke was too risky if it meant Fianna Fail clinging to power for longer, and demand that it issue a blanket bank guarantee before any bailout would be provided.

The result was that Ireland received a bailout of €85bn, which was €35bn for the banks and €50bn to be used for day-to-day spending in the years ahead, until we were able to cut our coat to our cloth and this was to be repaid with interest.

If the bank guarantee had never been agreed to, it is not unreasonable that affected banks would have restructured their bad debts long ago and agreed debt write-offs to consumers and business. The sky wouldn't have fallen in and some semblance of normal economic activity would have restarted.

As a country, we would also now be far ahead of where we were expected to be at this stage, in getting our day-to-day spending under control, and the Government would have some room to afford a stimulus package, leading to the creation of jobs and to economic growth and a further lessening of the debt burden.

Instead, our 'new' Government thinks the more pain it inflicts on the public the better it reflects on that government, and in the plush corridors of EU la-la land, where no one has experienced any austerity and where the financial services lobby seems to have free rein, this may be so.

Even still, it should come as no surprise to Fine Gael and Labour, given their abject failure to reform any of the salaries, expenses, pensions and allowances paid to the political class, that we don't believe them when they threaten us about what will happen if we don't vote Yes to the fiscal treaty.

The fact of the matter is we can either afford to bail out the banks or we can afford to sort out our public spending, but we cannot afford to do both, nor should the public in any country have to.

We have more than showed willing, but when we default on the original bailout -- which the markets have already decided we will, given the unsustainability of the debt burden placed on a country the size of Ireland -- instead of asking is it not time that banks were made to face the reality of restructuring as they have elsewhere without the sky falling in, the best the EU can come up with is to make us take on even more debt to keep repaying the previous unsustainable debt.

Where will it all end? Will we end up having continuous bailouts?

It is utter madness. There has to be an element of collectivity within the EU or the whole project is in danger is failing.

By all means, countries need to reform their budgetary processes and tackle their public-sector debt levels but the only way to foster new economic growth in the EU and create jobs is for the IMF, EU and ECB to accept that the debt burden must be spread evenly -- and that includes the private sector taking its share of debt write-off.

Desmond FitzGerald
Canary Wharf, London

• The Behaviour and Attitudes survey has informed the nation that although more than half of voters say they don't understand the Fiscal Compact, 42pc still intend to vote in favour of it, with 27pc voting against and 31pc "undecided".

Reminiscent of a student nodding stupidly while the teacher teaches incomprehensibly, that oldest of Irish behavioural maxims has never been better demonstrated.

When in doubt, blindly agree.

Killian Foley-Walsh
Kilkenny

Irish Independent

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