Sinn Fein accuses Government of ‘playing games’ on Budget figure

Party launches ‘alternative budget’ in Dublin

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty speaks to the media at the launch of the party’s ‘alternative budget’. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty speaks to the media at the launch of the party’s ‘alternative budget’. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Tue, Oct 8, 2013, 16:18

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty yesterday claimed he was “not surprised” by the Government’s decision to reduce next week’s budget adjustment to €2.5bn.

He was speaking at the launch of his party’s alternative budget in Dublin. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan earlier confirmed the adjustment in the October 15th budget would be €600m short of the anticipated €3.1billion.

“This has been very much a game by the Government to keep everybody guessing,” said Mr Doherty. “The real debate about the budget is about who is actually going to carry the burden,” he added.

Sinn Féin’s alternative budget – dubbed “a fair budget” by the party – seeks an adjustment of €2.453bn. This figure breaks down at €1.044bn in savings from public expenditure and tax increases of €1.408bn.

The alternative budget proposes the abolition of the property tax which Sinn Fein say will save 1.8m homeowners an average of €278 per year. It also suggests giving 86,000 carers €325 extra in their respite grant.

In addition, the party is seeking to take 296,000 workers earning below the annual minimum wage out of the tax net, and to extend free GP care to under-fives.

“We will ensure no more cuts to disability payments, no more cuts to child benefit and an extension of the fuel allowance,” said Mr Doherty.

In terms of tax increases, the party say they would increase the tax paid on income over €100,000 by seven per cent in each euro. They claim this measure would raise €365m. Sinn Fein also say they would restore capital gains tax to 40 per cent which they claim would raise €98m.

On the issue of cigarette and tobacco products, the party called for measures to reduce profits accrued by the industry. These include a price cap on the pre-tax price of tobacco. A 20 per cent increase in excise duty on a packet of cigarettes will raise €35.8m, they claim.

The party also calls for a wealth tax of 1 per cent on all assets over €1m net of all liabilities, including mortgages and other debts. The Department of Finance informed Sinn Fein it was unable to cost the proposal, but Mr Doherty said there was “no doubt” it would raise “hundreds of millions of euro”.

The alternative budget also outlines a series of measures to reduce public sector pay and pensions, including an income reduction of 15 per cent on salaries between €100,000 and €150,000, while imposing a reduction of 30 per cent of salaries in excess of this. They said this would generate a saving of €12m.

Furthermore, it was claimed a 10 per cent reduction of pay for all chief executives of non-commercial semi-state boards would save the State €1.16m.