Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesman Michael McGrath has called on the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to commit to a date for the publication of his revised four year budget plan to reduce the deficit. Deputy McGrath made the comments following weekend reports that the Government might delay releasing the multi-annual plan may until after the Presidential election on October 27th.
Deputy McGrath commented, ‘Speaking at last Thursday’s Oireachtas Finance Committee, Minister Michael Noonan committed to publishing in October the pre-budget outlook which will include a revised four year budget plan 2012-15. The Government is availing of the extra year allowed by the troika to bring the deficit to within 3% of GDP and understandably wishes to bring forward its own fiscal plan to achieve that. However, I was concerned to learn of reports over the weekend that this plan may not now be released until after the Presidential election.
‘In November 2010, the previous Government set out very clearly a four year National Recovery Plan to restore the economy and the current Government, despite trenchant opposition at the time, is now implementing the plan for. As a result, a growing number of commentators are saying we are on the right track.
‘There has been an expectation that the Minister would present the new multi-annual plan in October to allow sufficient time for public and Dáil debate on the forthcoming budget. However, Government ‘sources’ appear to rowing back on this timeline, perhaps concerned that it could hamper the hopes of those representing Fine Gael and Labour in the Presidential election with polling due to take place on October 27th.
‘I am calling on the Minister, and I will be asking him in the Dáil, to commit to a date for the publication of this plan. Fianna Fáil will support the Government in their efforts to open the budget process to further debate. In the run-up to last year’s budget, Fianna Fáil ensured the opposition had as much information as possible and invited the spokespeople of all parties into the Department of Finance for detailed briefings.
‘The Taoiseach and a number of Ministers have asked for this Government to be judged on its actions. This is an excellent and constructive opportunity for Government to prove that it is serious about engaging on the economic and budget debate. Will the Minister for Finance publish the multi-annual budget plan in time to allow proper debate, or will old style politics hold sway, with publication held until after the Presidential campaign?’