Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 13 July 2014

Kenny issues budget plan demand

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said a bailout of the Irish economy must allow a new government to revise the budget plan

A bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU) must be flexible enough to allow a new government to revise the four-year budget plan, Fine Gael's Enda Kenny has claimed.

The opposition leader said the terms of the deal must allow another coalition the ways and means of achieving the already agreed 15 billion euro savings.

Mr Kenny added: "Fine Gael has made it clear that, if elected to government, we will not be bound by the details of this government's four-year plan."

Speculation has mounted that the deal is being finalised, with the IMF/EU mission meeting the country's top trade unionists and business leaders in Dublin.

The budget plan published on Monday sets out plans for a one euro cut in the minimum wage, three billion euro social welfare cuts, 1.9 billion euro more from income tax, VAT increases and public sector jobs and pay cuts.

Mr Kenny's party criticised the four-year plan for not including a job creation strategy. He said: "We will present an alternative that is better for growth, jobs and fairness, and one that will allow for real reform of the public sector.

"That is why it is essential that any agreement between this Fianna Fail Government and the IMF/EU must be flexible on the ways and means of achieving the necessary budget targets already agreed to by Fine Gael. The public's right to choose between alternative economic platforms in the next election cannot be negotiated away by this Government."

John Gormley, Green leader and Environment Minister, said on Thursday that the minimum wage cut, which has angered unions and campaigners, was ordered by the EU mission.

Meanwhile, Siptu general president Jack O'Connor said he had a frank exchange of views with the IMF/EU mission during meetings in Dublin.

"I think in fairness to them they were anxious and interested to hear what we said, particularly in relation to issues around investment and around the way in which the burden is being distributed in the international plan," Mr O'Connor said. "I don't necessarily believe that we convinced anyone to change their mind but there was real engagement."

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