Fine Gael TD repeats call for bigger cutbacks

Recent budgets were about ‘fiscal correction’, says Eoghan Murphy

Eoghan Murphy: ‘When one asks what is austerity in the current climate, it is a balanced budget.’

Eoghan Murphy: ‘When one asks what is austerity in the current climate, it is a balanced budget.’


A Government backbencher has repeated his pre-budget view that the correction to the national finances should have been in excess of €2.5 billion.

Fine Gael TD for Dublin South East Eoghan Murphy recalled he had advocated a larger figure, adding that he still held the view.

“It is not about wanting austerity,’’ he said. “When one asks what is austerity in the current climate, it is a balanced budget.’’

Mr Murphy, who was speaking during the debate on the Finance Bill, said that while commentators spoke of the need for stimulus in the economy, last year the State borrowed €12 billion “as a stimulus to the economy’’ to fund current spending. That was not sustainable and was recognised.

“In the fiscal correction that we have been making each year, it has not been austerity budgets,’’ he added.

“It has been reducing the stimulus that we have been putting into the economy to run the current account and it is important to recognise such is the economic reality of the position.’’

Mr Murphy said it was important to recognise that economic policy was about not only cutting the deficit each year but also reforming and restructuring how the money was spent and getting better value for it.

“That is an important point on which to reflect because any decisions, in terms of trying to better manage the finances and put the economy on a more sustainable footing for the years to come, not taken this year will have to be taken in the future and will not go away.’’

Sugar tax
Independent TD Mick Wallace said he found it strange that the budget had not dealt with issues like a sugar tax.

“This is at a time when obesity is costing the State over €1 billion a year, one in four three- year olds are either overweight or obese, and almost two out of three adults over 50 are either overweight or obese.’’

He said some €200 million could be raised from taxing sugar-sweetened drinks and many of the food products which were bad for health.

Mr Wallace said Coca Cola was bad for health and its producers needed to be taxed directly in order to pay for the problems it was causing.

“I do not allow underage players in the Wexford youths to drink Coca Cola,’’ he added. “They can go and play in a different club rather than play with us if they are going to drink Coca Cola because it is bad for their health.’’

He said he had banned the sale s of Coca Cola in all his wine bar-restaurants because he would not allow his children to drink it.

“I had a visit from Coca Cola concerning why I was not selling their product, and I told them that if I did sell it I would be a hypocrite given that I do not allow my kids to drink it.”

Sean Crowe (SF) said he was not exaggerating when he said he had never met so many men and women who had cried in his company because of the difficulties they were facing in their lives.

“If one talks to other public representatives one will hear of a desperation out there among people who feel they have been let down. They are also desperate because after working every hour that God made, at the end of the week they look at their pay packet but still cannot pay their bills.’’

People were desperate at the thought of Christmas and how they would pay for their children’s presents and have a happy time, said Mr Crowe.