Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has committed the party to an economic strategy based around prudence in the management of the public finances and long term investment in infrastructure and public services. This forms the backbone of Fianna Fáil’s commitment to fairness at the heart of policy making.
Unlike Fine Gael who say that their current pledge to abolish USC ranks above all others, Fianna Fáil recognises that should difficult choices have to be made in the years ahead that we will prioritise public services over tax cuts.
Deputy McGrath commented “Fianna Fáil has learned the lessons of the past. We are committed to a balanced budget and we recognise that any expenditure-increasing or revenue-reducing measures are dependent on projected economic growth. We will take a sensible approach to tax and expenditure decisions in the years ahead and prioritise public services.
“Our overall package of €8.3 billion is split 2:1 between expenditure and tax. We believe this strikes the right balance between improving take home pay and ensuring families have access to quality public services.
“Our promises are measured and deliverable. Fianna Fáil’s key pledge in relation to taxation is to abolish the Universal Social Charge for all income earners on the first €80,000 of income. We will do this by eliminating the 3 lower rates of USC (1%, 3% and 5.5%) and raising the entry point for the remaining rate to €80,000.
“We will also guarantee equal treatment for the self-employed in the tax system and increase the Home Carers Tax Credit to €2,000.
“To protect the public finances over the years ahead we will establish a Rainy Day Fund with any unexpected proceeds from corporation tax. Strict rules will apply as to the circumstances in which funds can be drawn down.
“We will also put a strong case to the ECB for Ireland to be allowed hold the promissory note bonds to maturity. The current pace of sale is almost six times faster than the level envisaged when the arrangement was put in place.”
Public Expenditure and Reform spokesperson Sean Fleming stated “Targeted investment in infrastructure is central to our commitment to An Ireland for all.
“We believe that the Capital Plan as published by the government needs to be strengthened. We envisage additional capital expenditure of €2.7 billion over five years addressing key issues such as social housing, universal fibre broadband to the home and a new five year programme for research in third level institutions.
“We will improve the capacity of the health service by investing in more acute hospital beds and enhancing primary care facilities.
“To underpin this process we will establish a National Infrastructure Commission to plan the country’s infrastructure for the next 25 years and remove short term political considerations from the process. This will address key issues such as the M20 motorway.
“In addition we believe that on-going reform in the public sector is vital to the economic wellbeing of the country. Public services should be responsive to the needs of the people they serve. We will work to ensure current services and future programmes are designed to maximise ease of use and in particular IT access.
“In order to deliver full value for money across the public services we must provide clear mechanisms for performance review and greater flexibility. To this end we will standardise customer service charters across the public service.
“In relation to cost competitiveness we believe that a more hands on approach is needed by the State through ensuring competitiveness is a central consideration in policymaking, reducing operating costs, and delivering improvements in infrastructure, skills and the banking sector,” concluded Deputy Fleming.