Fianna Fáil Finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has said the government needs to urgently demonstrate that the plan to spend an extra €1.5 billion before the end of the year is not merely a pre-election spending spree designed to buy votes.
Deputy McGrath was commenting following the publication of the customary pre-budget White Paper on Receipts and Expenditure.
Deputy McGrath commented, “It is striking that the government intends to spend twice the amount in supplementary estimates before the end of the year than all of the extra spending pencilled in for next year in next week’s budget. While some supplementary estimates before the year end were expected, particularly in health, I don’t think anyone envisaged that the government would spend an extra €1.5 billion between now and year end. With an election looming and strict fiscal rules coming into effect in the new year, the suspicion will be that the government is trying to circumvent the rules through the back door and essentially buy votes. So far, the government has failed to demonstrate any clear strategy as to how to improve the delivery of public services and is now panicked into extra spending to put a gloss on their record in key areas.
“With the government parties fixated on when the election will he called, problems in areas such as hospital waiting lists, home care supports, rent supplement and homelessness continue to soar. It seems clear now that there is precious little governing going on but a great of deal pre-election posturing. The coalition needs to spell out exactly where the extra money will be going and demonstrate the specific improvement in services that will be delivered for taxpayers as a result.
“The White Paper also reveals that the government expects to take in over €19.1bn in income tax and USC next year. This is over one third higher than the income tax take in 2007 and shows the clear need to bring down the burden of income tax in a fair manner. Fianna Fáil has proposed an increase in the personal tax credit of €100 for a single person (€200 married / civil partner couple) together with an increase in the USC band which, when combined, would give each income earner over €21,000 an increase of €293 in their take home pay. This would be a much fairer approach that the strategy of focusing on high earners which appears to be Minister’s intention again this year.”