Kenny dismisses Martin PRSI query as a 'little game'
THE TAOISEACH dismissed as a “little game” questions from the Fianna Fáil leader on a possible increase in PRSI in the December budget.
Micheál Martin referred to the recent speech by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton focusing on whether benefits should be cut or PRSI rates increased.
“This was a considered speech by a senior Minister in the Taoiseach’s Government,” said Mr Martin. “Last week, we were all briefed to the effect that this would not happen any more and that there would be no more articulation of individual positions.”
Taoiseach Enda Kenny replied: “I have no intention of being dragged into Deputy Martin’s little game.”
Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley remarked: “It is called being in the Dáil and answering questions.”
Mr Kenny said it was important there was certainty for every business. That was why the Government reduced PRSI for employers and those with particular wage categories, creating substantial employment and making it easier for employers to hold on to employees.
“I will not get sucked into that attempt by Deputy Martin to have the Taoiseach involve himself in budgetary arguments,” he added.
The Government, he said, had set out its stall to have the deficit reduced by 7.5 per cent next year.
“We have already made it clear that, in respect of the programme for government, which is clear about these matters, ceilings have been set and Ministers will argue for their departments around the Cabinet table,” Mr Kenny added.
He said the budget would be in the first or second week of December, so a great deal of activity must be got through between now and then.
Earlier, Mr Martin said life was extremely difficult for small to medium-size employers and those who created jobs.
“There is a growing sense that the sector is under attack as a result of the VAT increase of 2 per cent, the decrease relating to redundancy rebates from 60 per cent to 15 per cent, and the proposals on sick leave pay,” he added.
He asked Mr Kenny if he accepted that, as an anonymous Fine Gael Minister articulated in The Irish Times yesterday, an increase in PRSI was the same as an increase in income tax.
Mr Kenny said the Government would make a decision about the 2013 budget. Targets had been set relating to ceilings allocated to each department for the three years ahead.
“I have no intention of speculating on comments arising from the matters raised by Deputy Martin,” he added.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said the State had the fifth highest unemployment rate in the euro zone.
“We now have 30 per cent youth unemployment, which does not include those in education or training,” he added.
“It goes higher and the statistics would be even higher if we included the 70,000 young people who emigrated.” Mr Kenny said he was very unhappy with the level of unemployment generally, particularly youth unemployment.
He added that the Government had published a report with 270 propositions for businesses to open doors.
“The second quarterly report of the action plan is due for publication very shortly,” said Mr Kenny.
“I hope the measures being taken will add to the first report and make it more beneficial and effective for employers.”