Gilmore hardens stance on €3.1 billion budget adjustment plan

Tánaiste acknowledges next month’s budget will be ‘tough’, but insists it will be ‘fair’

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore the deal on the Anglo promissory note should affect the budgetary arithmetic by about €1 billion.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore the deal on the Anglo promissory note should affect the budgetary arithmetic by about €1 billion.

Tue, Sep 10, 2013, 11:59

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore says Ireland can meet its deficit targets with a budgetary adjustment of less than €3.1 million.

Mr Gilmore said the recent deal on the Anglo promissory note “should affect” the budgetary arithmetic by about €1 billion.

“Now how that is deployed is something that is going to have to be determined in the budget discussions, and will be clear on Budget Day,” he said.

“I’m satisfied that we can reach our target for this year by doing a budget adjustment of less than €3.1 billion.”

The Labour Party leader, however, would not be drawn on how far under the original €3.1 billion target his party wanted to go.

His comments come amid reported divisions between Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin on €300 million of the savings.

The Government is committed to ensuring Budget 2014 delivers a general government deficit of no greater than 5.1 per cent of GDP next year. Labour ministers are thought to favour a more modest adjustment of €2.7 billion.

“There are some commentators who are saying to us, well, you’re doing great, keep it up, do the €3.1 billion anyway, even if the €3.1 billion is more than is necessary to meet your target,” Mr Gilmore told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme. “What I say to that is this, yes we will do what is necessary to get our public finances in good order and to meet our targets, but I do not believe that we should do more than that. I don’t think there is a case for that.

“It will be a difficult Budget but we have to do it in a way that is fair and balanced, that it achieves its objectives but that doesn’t do reductions in public expenditure or new taxes just for the sake of doing it.”

Mr Gilmore said he would not comment on speculation about the specifics of the budget plan at this stage, but gave assurances that no proposals are on the table to cut the old age pension.

The Tánaiste said he wanted to see a focus on supporting families in the budget and said the coalition was looking at bringing in free GP care for children. “I believe families have suffered considerably as a result of the recession and families have suffered the contraction in the budgets and when we look at the forthcoming budget we have to look at some way of providing relief,” he said.

The budget will be announced on October 15th by Mr Noonan, some two months earlier than usual under European demands to have the figures scrutinised in Brussels.

In an interview with the Financial Times earlier this week, Mr Gilmore claimed “austerity hawks” had attempted to use Ireland as some type of economic experiment.

“Austerity alone is not sufficient for economic recovery or social stability,” he told the newspaper.