Reaction to Budget 2013

Sat, Dec 8, 2012, 00:00

Sir, – It is now clear that the Government’s strategy to get out of the crisis is to take from those who were prudent over the past 15 years. Excluding the Government’s preferred elite, only those who have saved and refused to become overly indebted have anything left. These are the people who made the good investment and consumption decisions over the past 15 years.

It makes little sense for the Government to take from these people, while it continues with its own brand of madness. It continues with Celtic Tiger expenditure, on pre-Celtic Tiger income. – Yours, etc,

GEOFF WALES,

Glenabo Heights,

Fermoy, Co Cork.

Sir, – Wouldn’t it be a wonderful Christian/Christmas gesture, if the overpaid Ministers and TDs gave of their bounty in order to reverse the cut in the Budget to the carer’s respite? Yours, etc,

EM GREEN,

Ballyknocken Beg,

Rathnew, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – It would appear the Labour Party has undergone a process of internal change and decided that labour no longer relates to work but more so the pain of having children. – Yours, etc,

ZOHAR LEE,

Wilson Road,

Mount Merrion, Co Dublin.

Sir, – Perhaps because Enid O’Dowd (December 6th) had not had a chance at that stage to establish the factual position, her letter made certain assumptions about the changes proposed by Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, to the parliamentary standard allowance provided to members of the Oireachtas to cover expenses.

The position is as follows:

1. The rates of the travel and accommodation element of the allowance will be reduced by 25 per cent for members based in Dublin (less than 25km) and by 10 per cent for members based outside Dublin. 2. The requirement to vouch (ie provide proof of expenditure) will be applied to all expenditure under the public representational allowance, subject to permitting limited “petty cash” expenditure for incidental expenses. 3. The vouched expenditure limits under the public representational allowance will be reduced by nearly 20 per cent, to €20,350 for deputies, €16,000 for ministers and ministers of state, and €12,225 for Senators.

In addition the Minister announced his intention to reduce the monthly pre-paid envelope allowance for Deputies and Senators by 50 per cent, and to eliminate the option of an unvouched element to the secretarial support allowances. – Is mise,

ÁINE GRIFFIN,

Press Officer, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,

Upper Merrion

Street, Dublin 2.

Sir, – It is clear that many families are walking fiscal tightropes and the pressure on organisations such as the Society of St Vincent de Paul are evidence of real strain and hardship.

Like many people I am angry, but my wrath is not aimed at our current government which, it seems to me, has few choices in where the cuts are administered. It appears many people are suffering from collective amnesia as they vent their spleens not at the perpetrators of this debacle but at the people who are trying to lead us out of this predicament. Most of those who contributed to this mess are languishing with their fat pensions out of the public eye, while their former colleagues who remain in the Dáil wring their hands in false and ludicrous empathy with this nation – an appalling spectacle. Certainly there is pain — but let’s not blame the dentist for the rot. – Yours, etc,

GEOFF SCARGILL,

Loreto Grange,

Bray, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Who is dictating Government policy: multinationals and/or our indigenous high earners, including politicians and senior civil and public servants?

Yet again we have evidence of the double standard employed by politicians. One rule for the coping classes, another entirely for the elite in society.

No increase in the USC for those on salaries over €100,000. Many of those on these very high salaries do nothing to create jobs. What about the inequity with respect to the self-employed, who already pay 10 per cent USC? No cap on public service pensions. Precedent has been set regarding the cutting pensions and contractual arrangements. In budget 2010 public service pensioners had their pensions cut despite the contractual nature of same. If there was no difficulty in cutting pensions in 2010 why can it not be done now?

Where there is a will there is a way! – Yours, etc,

DEIRDRE Mac DONALD,

Drumgoold Lower,

Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.

A chara, – One would have to drink 240 bottles of wine a year to experience the same financial impact as the cuts to child benefit for a family with two children. One affects an unessential leisure activity, the other affects children. Those “whining” should really get a grip. – Is mise,

ALEX STAVELEY,

Beverton Wood, Donabate,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Budget 2013 should be renamed Fifty Shades of Grim, and while it won’t be a best seller, it certainly has us all screwed! – Yours, etc,

STEPHEN KEARON PC,

Ballinaclash, Co Wicklow.

Sir, – While queuing in Stillorgan’s EBS on Wednesday, it took me a minute or two to realise that it was broadcasting on a big wide-screen TV the PM’s autumn statement from the House of Commons rather than our Budget debate from the Dáil . Should I be surprised that our bankers seem to have had no interest in the proceedings? Probably not. – Yours, etc,

LUKE BREHONY,

The Rise,

Mount Merrion, Co Dublin.

Sir, – We have seen with tobacco and other products that there is a direct relationship between ridiculously high taxes (leading to high product prices) and the criminal smuggling of those products. With combined tobacco taxation standing at 80 per cent, the Minister of Finance can pull the levers to either increase or decrease the availability of illicit tobacco which is crushing our small retailers.

So it is quite disingenuous of Kathleen O’Meara (December 7th) to blame smuggling on the tobacco industry, just as it is for her to pretend that smokers impose a net burden on the health service. Smokers contribute far more in tax than they cost.

Already the Revenue Commissioners have warned that tobacco prices are so high in Ireland they have gone beyond the tipping point. This is where further increases lead to a fall in revenue with no attendant decrease in the number of people smoking. As such, the policy should be to reduce prices and tackle the criminals while increasing the tax take for the State. – Yours, etc,

JOHN MALLON,

Forest Éireann,

Churchfield, Cork.

Sir,– Is the public outcry over a €1 increase in a bottle of wine simply a case of “sour grapes”? – Yours, etc,

BARRY McGINN,

Moyville, Dublin 16.

Sir, – Most taxpayers recognise their ever-heavier burden with limited grumbling, knowing it to be a bill for the financial incompetence of the previous government.

Looking ahead, a €3 billion promissory note payment falls due in March for Anglo and Irish Nationwide debts.

Taxpayers have done their bit. We now expect the Government to do its bit and deliver a deal on the promissory note in Europe. If they fail, financial incompetence is unlikely to be regarded as an exclusively Fianna Fáil attribute in future elections. – Yours, etc,

PHILIP WHEATLEY,

Florence Terrace,

Bray, Co Wicklow .

Sir, – The core aim of labour parties and social democrats across the world is to reduce inequality.

Decreasing the gap between rich and poor is the raison d’être of progressive parties.

Often social democratic parties fail in their efforts to reduce inequality.

However, rarely ever do they support measures which consistently increase the gap between rich and poor. With a few notable exceptions, the Irish Labour Party has now supported and introduced two successive budgets which actually increase income inequality. Flat rate taxation measures and flat rate cuts to supports like child benefit are highly regressive and impact most on families with low to middle incomes.

The Labour Party must immediately change course if it is to remain in any way relevant to its core goal of reducing inequality. – Yours, etc,

Cllr CIAN O’CALLAGHAN,

Main Street,

Howth, Co Dublin.

Sir, – A brief postcard from Italy, where my husband and I are entitled to a grand total of zero in child benefit for our two small children. On a recent visit to us in Rome, my brother was approached by an Italian man wondering if the Irish social welfare system was “still functioning”. His adult children, he said, were having trouble finding jobs in Italy so he was thinking of sending them over to Dublin! - Yours, etc,

FRANCES ARMSTRONG,

Via Ignazio Persico,

Roma, Italy.