Fine Gael slates FF appetite for €4.35bn spend in six months

Government party TD compiles analysis of ‘ongoing reckless’ expenditure demands

Peter Burke TD: ‘The real problem – should Fianna Fáil get their hands on the country’s tiller – is there is no coherent strategy from Micheál Martin when it comes to economic management.’

Peter Burke TD: ‘The real problem – should Fianna Fáil get their hands on the country’s tiller – is there is no coherent strategy from Micheál Martin when it comes to economic management.’

 

Fine Gael has disparaged Fianna Fáil over its call for €4.35 billion worth of spending in six months.

Fine Gael TD Peter Burke, a chartered accountant, compiled a report of the spending demands made by his political rivals over a six-month period, saying that Fianna Fáil’s “ongoing reckless spending demands of taxpayers’ funds is solid proof Micheál Martin’s party has not learned a single lesson”.

Mr Burke said “the old adage certainly rings true – a leopard can’t change its spots”.

The Longford-Westmeath TD said that “in the first six months of this year, Fianna Fáil have recklessly called for €4.35 billion in spending before the budget, with no consideration as to how to pay for it. What is even more worrying, is this is a conservative figure as costings cannot be provided for all of their spending calls.”

Mr Burke said that Fianna Fáil did not know collectively what it wanted and that the demand is unrealistic and ultimately unfair on the taxpayer. He added that the only way to meet its demands would be to increase taxes or borrow.

“Their attitude of ‘when we have it, we spend it’ or indeed ‘when we don’t have it, we’ll spend it anyway’ hasn’t gone away,” said Mr Burke.

This is the second statement of its kind by Mr Burke, who also criticised his political rivals in January for their spending calls in 2018.

Some of the spending proposed by Fianna Fáil recorded in the report are policies like 50,000 new homes by 2024, providing an extra €100 million for higher education and ending pay inequality for new teachers.

Is the party fit to govern?

“The real problem – should Fianna Fáil get their hands on the country’s tiller – is there is no coherent strategy from Micheál Martin when it comes to economic management,” added Mr Burke.

“ ‘Call for whatever ye like lads’ is the message from the top down, no matter what choppy waters may be ahead. In recent weeks alone, Fianna Fáil representatives have called for increased spending in health, transport, welfare payments and third-level institutions,” said Mr Burke.

The Longford-Westmeath TD added that while all are worthy recipients for investment, the party has not produced a shred of information as to how such an investment would be funded. Consequently, he said, this approach does not indicate a party that understands how to govern.

“Last year, we saw Fianna Fáil make spending demands of €3.5 billion. Their spendthrift mindset has not only continued, it has accelerated in 2019. Can Fianna Fáil representatives tell us what areas of public expenditure should be reduced to finance this lavish spend? Or maybe they’d introduce another USC [Universal Social Charge] to plug the black hole like they did in 2010.”

Mr Burke’s report comes as both parties commit to passing a fourth and final budget under their confidence and supply arrangement before the much anticipated general election later this year or early 2020.