Budget 2013 not an à la carte menu, insists Varadkar
Almost every adult in the State will be hit by a range of budget measures including a property tax, reduced child benefit, extended PRSI and cuts in the entitlements for the elderly.
Fr Seán Healy of Social Justice Ireland said the Budget would make Ireland a harsher society and do damage to the economy.
“It is unjust that corporations maintain and receive tax relief in Budget 2013 while families continue to suffer the brunt of budgetary adjustments,” he said.
Questions submitted by irishtimes.com readers revealed a degree of confusion surrounding the new property tax and whether exemptions applied to those who have paid stamp duty in recent years. Other concerns included changes to PRSI and changes to pension payments.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the budget was about jobs, opportunities and businesses” with an emphasis on the small and medium enterprises sector.
“The decision of the Minister for Finance to bring in a particular package for small and medium enterprises will have direct impact for the benefit of many middle income families and those currently on low incomes to get out of the particular sector.”
Mr Noonan expressed the hope this was the last austerity budget, and he predicted the adjustments in 2014 and 2015 would be much smaller. He also said this was the last December budget and he hoped to publish the 2014 budget next October.
Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Pat Kenny programme, he defended the PRSI increases, saying they represented good value for people on lower incomes by guaranteeing benefits.
An extra €5 a week for somebody on €25,000 “will guarantee their benefits, but particularly their contributory pension. It's about the best value for €5 that anyone can ever get,” he said.
Speaking on the same programme, Mr Howlin said cuts to child benefit protected core social welfare payments. He said the coalition made a decision “to try and fix a very broken economy and to do it with as much sensitivity, protecting the most vulnerable.”
Mr Varadkar said the Government could not take €3.5 billion out of people’s pockets “without hurting them and without offending them and that’s what we have had to do. It’s not something we wanted to do”.
“We’d much prefer to be able to cut taxes, add grants and increase spending, but we can’t. We have to do this and we have to stick by the Budget,” he told reporters in Dublin while attending the publication of a Road Safety Authority guide.