Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming has said the Government has taken the wrong decisions with Budget 2015 by choosing to focus on tax cuts instead of investment in vital services for citizens.
Deputy Fleming also pointed to a major flaw in the health budget for next year, identifying another €460m ‘black hole’ in the funding for services in 2015.
Deputy Fleming said: “Today there was an opportunity for the Government to bring in a socially balanced budget – but they have failed to deliver. For the first time in a number of years there are available resources to allocate to those who need services the most, investing in health, education, childcare, social housing and getting people back to work. This would help build a fairer and more caring society – but sadly the Government has passed up this opportunity, choosing instead to prioritise short-term political gain.
“The Government’s choices today are creating a divided society. Fianna Fáil could have chosen in our own budget proposals last week to cut the top rate of income tax for high earners but instead we believe resources in the first instance should be directed to improve services for our citizens and the quality of life for all. There are many people waiting for health, education and social services for unacceptable waiting periods.
“A major issue that stands out today is the lack of detail and in particular another flawed health budget. The HSE deficit this year could hit €500 million by the end of the year and the one thing we need for next year is a realistic budget. In the Comprehensive Expenditure Report published today by Minister Brendan Howlin it states “the Department of Health is progressing a range of savings measures (€130m) and income generation measures (€330m) estimated to have the potential to support expenditure in 2015.” This amounts to nothing short of a €460m hole in the health budget for next year before we get started.
“The Government has clearly learned nothing from the botched figures for €130m in medical card ‘probity’ in last year’s budget. For the last three years Minister Howlin has produced health budgets that have no creditability or basis in reality and unfortunately today’s seems no different.”