Kenny says USC cuts and pension rises still on the cards

Government will not be reversing any of 600 commitments set out in the programme for partnership, says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: he said while the ESRI was predicting growth rates averaging 3%, difficulties lay ahead over the coming years

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: he said while the ESRI was predicting growth rates averaging 3%, difficulties lay ahead over the coming years

 

The economic uncertainty created by Brexit will not stop the Government from cutting the universal social charge (USC), increasing State pensions and improving social insurance for the self-employed, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

In an interview ahead of the Oireachtas Christmas recess, Mr Kenny said the Government would not be reversing any of the 600 commitments set out in the programme for partnership agreed with Independent politicians in May.

“No, we’ve set out our programme for government. We’ve been very focused on continuing to manage the economy carefully and prudently in the public interest.”

In the minority Fine Gael Government’s first budget each of the rates of USC was reduced by 0.5 per cent. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said he intends to phase out the charge, introduced at the height of the State’s financial crisis, if circumstances permit.

Speaking to journalists in Government Buildings, Mr Kenny said the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) was predicting growth rates averaging 3 per cent . However, he said some difficulties lay ahead over the next eight to nine years.

New markets

“So, our priority really is to continue to manage the economy in the interests of everybody, follow through on our programme for government, and continue to legislate and make decisions in the best interests of all the people.”

Mr Kenny said the provision of jobs remained the focus of the Government’s economic strategy, and it hoped to deliver 200,000 over the next five years, 135,000 of them outside the Greater Dublin Area.

“Clearly the national broadband strategy is critical both in terms of making areas attractive for investment both at home and abroad.

“Obviously over 1,000 jobs per week have been created, so unemployment has halved from 15.3 per cent to 7.3 per cent. That’s obviously a strong performance given the nature of the difficulties and challenges right across Europe.”