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Budget 'needs more austerity'

THE chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council said its assessment of the Budget was "not taken lightly" as it called on the Government to introduce greater austerity.

The council has urged €4.4bn in savings -- a significant jump on the €3.8bn subsequently earmarked.

Prof John McHale, chairman of the five-person council, told the joint Oireachtas committee on finance, public expenditure and reform that the scale of Ireland's debt was one of the main reasons why the council favoured greater austerity.

"We believe that fiscal austerity does slow the economy, so it's with great care and concern that we would advocate future austerity," he said. "But against that we have to weigh up the costs and risks of debt build-up.

"We will endeavour to raise the political costs of undertaking a bad fiscal policy."