Following the publication of the Summer Economic Statement 2018, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance, Michael McGrath has said that, “the foundation stone of Budget 2019 must involve practical measures to tackle the acute crises the Government has allowed to develop in housing and in parts of our health service.”
Deputy McGrath added, “The political stability brought about by the Confidence & Supply agreement has been an important ingredient in our recent economic performance. Fianna Fáil will engage positively in discussions on Budget 2019 but we are insisting on tangible progress in the key areas of policy where the Government has so far failed.
”The Summer Economic Statement published today provides that €3.4bn is available in Budget 2019 but €2.6 billion of this has been pre-announced and so is in effect not available for new decisions. This leaves around €800 million for new budgetary measures.
“We are disappointed that the Government have failed to meet the Medium Term Objective (MTO) of a balanced budget in structural terms which was announced as a priority by the Minister in Budget 2018 and we support the policy position that this must be achieved next year. The failure to meet the MTO in 2018 has impacted negatively on the available resources in 2019.
“I welcome that the Rainy Day Fund will be established. The establishment of this Fund is a vital step in preparing our country for the next economic shock – which will come at some point. Fianna Fáil was the first party to propose this Fund in 2015. It will avoid a situation where – when an adverse shock hits our country – the first decision of Government has to be to increase taxes and cut public spending.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Barry Cowen commented that, “the Confidence and Supply Agreement has ensured that the last two budgets have been progressive and have been directed at those who have been left behind by the economic recovery. This was a seismic shift away from the Tory style policies put in place by Fine Gael. It is critical now that Budget 2019 continues in the same vain and is a progressive Budget for those who are continuing to struggle despite the healthy economic indicators.
“We have the continuing crises in housing and health that Fine Gael have up until now failed to tackle despite the money dedicated to them under the Confidence and Supply Agreement. Key questions remain from the Summer Economic Statement. The Government announced €1.5 billion in capital expenditure next year. Yet we do not know what that means in terms of bricks and mortar. The Government have to outline specifically what makes up this €1.5 billion and crucially it must deliver on those projects.
“As we move closer to Budget 2019 we in Fianna Fáil will continue to engage constructively under the terms of the Confidence and Supply Agreement”, concluded Deputy Cowen.