Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath has said “the objectives and targets in the Government’s Medium-Term Fiscal Statement are broadly in line with the objectives and targets outlined by Fianna Fáil in the National Recovery Plan which was published in November 2010 – a plan that Fine Gael and Labour opposed and argued vehemently against.”

“The lack of any strategy for economic growth, job creation and restoring confidence in the domestic is notably absent from this Statement. Without a clear and coherent plan for economic renewal, the task of achieving our public finance targets will be made all the more difficult.

“The Government has acknowledged that 60% of adjustment made in the economy to date has been on spending side. Despite the rhetoric of the Labour Party in opposition and during the election, the Statement released today admits that the majority of the future adjustment will also be on the spending side. Proving perhaps that it’s more a case of Fine Gael’s way than Labour’s way when it comes to budget process.

“Fianna Fáil is disappointed with the level of detail in the Statement. The Government is again not clear on the issue of possible future income tax changes. Its commitment not to increase income tax over the lifetime of the Government has been heavily qualified.  Its focus today on raising significant cash amounts through indirect taxation will only cause further uncertainty and a reluctance to spend in the domestic economy. The Statement fails to provide the necessary certainty and clarity to consumers about how taxation measures over the next four years will affect them.

“Today’s statement has no emphasis on job stimulation at all. Job creation measures are completely missing from this four-year fiscal plan. Fine Gael and Labour promised a jobs budget, then whittled it down to a jobs initiative that they raided pension funds for. This plan indicates that they have abandoned their own targets and their promises to voters, and job creation is not their priority. The truth is that the number on the live register is higher today than it was when the new Government came to office in March. 

“Unemployment is projected to remain high at 11.6% by 2015. The Government has admitted today for the first time that their programme only aims to bring about 65,000 jobs by 2015. That’s a long way from the headline grabbing 100,000 jobs agenda.

“On the issue of stimulating the economy, the Government has taken the easy political option and has targeted a significant cut in the capital programme of €750m for next year. The capital budget is already under spent for this year and the Government is showing a distinct lack of interest in planning for the future. Now is the time to invest in our infrastructure and position Ireland in a strong, competitive position for recovery. Money spent now on capital projects will go a long way and key projects, now likely to be pushed out many years, could be completed in a more cost effective way if they’re progressed now.”