Timing of budget to be decided next week

Eamon Ryan rejects emergency budget but ‘wouldn’t object’ to bringing forward budget due to cost-of-living crisis

The Government is set to decide early next week whether to pull the budget forward, with consideration being given to moving it to September in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan told RTÉ on Thursday morning that he “wouldn’t object if we had to move into the September period rather than October”.

“I think that’s a matter for Cabinet to decide early next week,” he told the Morning Ireland programme, reiterating that the Government remains opposed to doing an emergency budget as the Opposition is calling for.

Mr Ryan was responding to a report in Thursday’s Irish Times that the Government has discussed, at a senior level, moving the budget into September. Sources across the Coalition have confirmed such a step is under consideration.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance said that no decision had been made on the timing. “The focus is on preparing the summer economic statement which will be brought to Cabinet and published next week.”

“This is a key part of the budgetary process and will set out the Government’s medium-term budgetary strategy.”

In the Dáil on Thursday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar did not specify a date or a month when referring to the budget when he said the global inflation crisis would not end “because of any budget, whether it’s an emergency budget before the autumn or whether it’s one in the autumn”. He said Ireland could be grappling with the cost-of-living crisis for years, following Wednesday’s comments from Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath that the country could be facing a “prolonged period of high inflation”.

It comes after trade unions told the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that the Government’s offer of a 5 per cent pay increase over two years for public servants is “not credible”.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions public services committee (PSC) said it backed the union negotiators’ view that the Government’s recent pay offer could not credibly be put to a ballot while low and middle-income workers struggle with soaring prices.

Talks between unions and the Government on public sector pay got under way in early June at the WRC. Under the current agreement, Building Momentum, public sector workers received a 1 per cent pay increase last year, with a further 1 per cent due this October. Unions triggered a review clause contained within the agreement almost four months ago due to higher-than-expected inflation in 2021 and 2022.

The Government then offered an additional increase of 2.5 per cent for the 2021-2022 period of the current agreement, which is now under review with the assistance of the WRC.

This was “clearly inadequate when inflation is likely to be at least 9 per cent over that period,” PSC chairman Kevin Callinan said in a letter addressed to the WRC director general, Liam Kelly, this week.

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a political reporter with The Irish Times

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times