Ministers will not be taking Covid-19 pay cut, Donohoe says

Finance minster says he and colleagues have not ‘experienced the wage increases others have’

Paschal Donohoe said that rebuilding Ireland’s economy after the coronavirus pandemic will ‘take time and involve choices’. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA

Paschal Donohoe said that rebuilding Ireland’s economy after the coronavirus pandemic will ‘take time and involve choices’. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA

 

Government Minsters will not be taking a Covid-19 pay cut, the Minster for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said.

Mr Donohue said “neither I nor any of my colleagues have experienced the wage increases that others have,” and that he has no plans “to implement any further changes in that area”.

Mr Donohoe also said that rebuilding Ireland’s economy after the coronavirus pandemic will “take time and involve choices.”

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, Mr Donohoe said things may become clearer next week as exchequer returns for April will be published.

Commenting on research from Chambers Ireland which suggests 85 per cent of businesses have closed to some degree as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, Mr Donohoe said: “We have very large parts of our economy that have either went into a form of stasis or indeed have shut down because of where we are with Covid-19”.

“However, what I should emphasise is what is so different to where we were in recent years, is while our economy has unfortunately changed very quickly over a short period of time, it has done that because of the public health choice that we have made as opposed to economic issues.

“And what that does mean is, as we change our guidance about public health, we will be able to, over time, make positive economic changes as well. We have been very successful now in recent weeks in reducing the transmission of Covid-19 within communities and within the workplace.”

The Minister said both of these elements combined give the country a foundating for rebuilding “ not only the public health of Ireland, but also the economy of our country - which I’m confident that we will do, even though I know it will take time to do and it will involve choices.”

On Wednesday night, a further 376 cases were reported, more than half of which related to nursing homes. The total number of confirmed cases has now exceeded the 20,000 mark, and stands at 20,253.

The deaths of another 31 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team at its briefing on Wednesday, bringing the total death toll in the pandemic to 1,190 in the Republic.

Mr Donohoe said that April’s exchequer returns will be published next week

and would give greater understanding of the impact of coronavirus on tax revenue.

“We didn’t get a really clear picture of that in March, because it was looking back over a period of in which the disease had not developed in the way it now has. There is much to be concerned about in terms of where we are with falling tax revenue, and the need for additional public money to be spent quickly.

“I have to acknowledge that the demands on tax revenues that are going down are growing and growing. But while there is much to be concerned about, there’s an equal amount to be confident and positive about.”

Mr Donohoe said there are still many people at work who are generating tax revenue that will allow the Government to spend money.

When asked about the Covid-19 payment and wage subsidy schemes, Mr Donohoe replied: “We cannot sustain this indefinitely - these are interventions that are costing between €200 million and 400 million per week. And what I will do now in the coming weeks, is I will explain the future of a scheme like that.

Mr Donohoe said turning off the scheme abruptly would “undo much of the good work that we’ve put in place”.

He said he hopes the Government will be in a position to give clarity about “a roadmap” to reopening parts of the economy after Friday’s Cabinet meeting.