|Posted on July 8, 2015 at 10:20 AM|
SENATOR PAUL COGHLAN SEANAD GOVERNMENT CHIEF WHIP SPEAKING IN THE SEANAD ON THE SPRING ECONOMIC STATEMENT Wednesday 6th May 2015. Apart from being a European requirement this is a very useful exercise as regards the management of our economy and charting as well as plotting our recovery from the brink of the collapse which this government inherited. Rescuing the economy and saving the country was of paramount importance. We did not want to default nor did we want to leave the Eurozone so a clear plan to secure the stabilization of the economy and keep the country pointed in the right direction was essential. There is no doubt that our people have shown great patience and resilience during the crisis and indeed we are indebted to them for all of their hardwork and sacrifices. We are all now glad that the Troika are gone from our shores and that the bailout is over. We must not forget however that the recovery still requires nurturing but it is heartening to know that we are now the fastest growing economy in the EU. Repairing the public finances is still a work in progress with the Government borrowing being radically reduced and thankfully interest rates at an all time low. We have however too many people out of work but it is good to know that unemployment has fallen to 10% from a high of over 15% and employment levels are now at their highest since 2009. The Spring Economic statement clearly sets out the governments five year plan to 2020 to further secure and strengthen the recovery. At the heart of this plan is a commitment to protect our national competiveness and stability in the public finances. This will ensure an improved climate for job creation which remains a top priority. More jobs will mean more resources to fund services and reduce taxes on those already at work. The Government commitment of targeting 100,000 jobs is about to be achieved a year ahead of target. This will lead to more Irish people returning to this country to take up employment here than those leaving. By 2018 every job lost by the previous government will have been replaced with more sustainable jobs in the pipeline and finally by 2019 there will be more people working in this country than ever before. The Government’s targets are ambitious and will only be achieved if we continue to make the right choices and we are committed to that path. A path that continues to reduce the burden of taxation on enterprise and employment. One that continues to improve our attractiveness both for investment and expansion and that ignores the calls from whatever quarter for a return to reckless tax and spending policies that destroyed the public finances in the past. The Plan targets steady growth of between 3% and 3.5% per year – not boom and bust. Steady growth of this nature will eliminate the remaining deficit and bring government debt down to below average European levels without any new taxes or charges. We have moved away from the “when we have it, we spend it” approach to budget management espoused by previous governments. Our small business sector needs more support and this please god is in the pipeline. Many people have not yet witnessed or seen the benefits of our recovering economy and some families are still struggling to make ends meet. However if we hold our heads things will continue to improve and we now know that the Minister for Finance will have more scope to assist matters further in the upcoming budget. The addition of an annual Spring economic statement sets out the broad directions needed for growing the economy and repairing the public finances. This will ensure a fair sharing of the benefits of recovery with those already at work. Private Sector employers are once again agreeing sustainable pay increases with their staff and Minister Howlin has announced the Government’s decision to commence discussions with the Trade Unions on the issue of Public Service Pay. We know that all Public Servants have had their pay cut significantly and most are also working longer hours. The size of the public service has been reduced by 10% at a time of growing demand on public services. But this was necessary in helping us to secure stability in the public finances and our national economic recovery. As further improvement takes place the right time is now approaching to open up the prospect of gradual, sustainable pay recovery for public servants from 2016 onwards linked to continuing reforms to efficiency and effectiveness. The Plan’s aim is to offer fair rewards for hard work and not quick profits for speculation. The USC introduced by the last government was an emergency penal tax on low and middle income families and this government intends to accelerate its phased abolition. Already 330,000 low income income families have been removed from the USC. In the least budget an additional 80,000 low income families were re moved from USC the two lower rates of which were cut and those on the minimum wage were removed from the higher USC rate. It is intended that in the upcoming budget to bring to 500,000 the total number of low income workers that will have been removed from the USC net. It is also intended to cut the 7% rate of USC on all those earning up to €70,000 per year. It is also intended to end the unfair tax treatment for the self employed and small business people. Strong growth in jobs is funding tax cuts on working people. Unless tax on work in turn means more jobs. The plan would reinforce a virtuous circle of rising living standards, lower taxes, job creation and improving public finances. Our plan will make sure that work pays more than welfare as well as reducing the numbers of working people and their families experiencing poverty. Once the low pay commission makes its recommendation in July, the government intends to respond with a package of measures in the October budget. There is renewed optimism in this country. This Government will continue to work night and day to secure the recovery. At the next election the people will have a clear choice between a stable and coherent government that will secure and strengthen the recovery, or chaos and instability. Populist promises to reverse every tough decision are nothing but empty rhetoric. They are not the solution to our problems. I have every confidence that whenever the next election comes the people will make the right choice. Ends.