I listened with interest to Alistair Darling’s Budget and have read the analysis to see what negative or positive impact it may have on the North West and specifically Donegal — but as one commentator noted it was a benign budget.
The Chancellor is being optimistic in his outlook and predicts a turn around earlier than many.
With a budget deficit of £175bn it is difficult to see where the money will come from and how it will ever be paid back.
However, with a General Election due by this time next year, this deficit may no longer be Labour’s problem so he opted for a safe political budget possibly leaving the UK with more problems for the future.
There was certainly nothing in the budget to encourage Chamber members here in Letterkenny but it did bring the Irish Budget into stark reality.
The additional taxes and levies will start to apply this week and workers will see exactly how the Irish Budget has affected them.
While we all knew that Brian Lenihan had to raise taxes and the theory is fine until people actually see the results in their pay packet and we hope that more increases won’t be necessary again in December.
There is no appetite for more cuts from any sector. The North West has been hit hard by losses in the construction sector and unemployment continues to rise by the day so any further reductions in pay packets would be hard to take.
Here in Donegal local politicians are gearing up for the local council elections taking place in just over a month.
National opinion polls are not being kind to Fianna Fail so at a local level across Donegal it will be interesting to see how the general public votes.
Many will say privately that change is needed and we know this will be a tough time for local councillors on the doorstep.
Change at a local level may be seen as one step forward but as we all know when it comes to polling day it is hard to say whether people will actually change their voting habit.
These local council elections are seen as the most interesting in a number of years and should be a good barometer for how the country feels.
We know that the discussions will centre around the economy because that is what everyone is talking about. The business community have called for strong leadership, for a new solution, so at this time when local politicians and those aspiring to run the local councils are electioneering all voters need to challenge them.
Voters need to ask the tough questions to find out how they would lead the country out of its current situation and deliver results for the North West.
Toni Forrester is CEO of Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce. For details about Chamber activities contact her on 00353-74- 9125505, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or 00353-872130495.