Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Ministers agree to 'open books'

Enda Kenny and Fine Gael will be able to look at the Government's books

Ministers have signed off on opening the state's books to the opposition to help them devise their own four-year budgetary strategy.

The Department of Finance is to write to the opposition parties after the Cabinet agreed to the olive branch.

It comes as Fine Gael ruled out any prospect of a national government to help lead the country out of recession, claiming the idea was being pushed by those who wanted Fianna Fail to stay in power.

A Government source said the department would effectively "make the books available", providing information on the economic and budgetary parameters and costings if needed.

A four-year budgetary plan is to be published in early November to set out a roadmap to help bring the country's deficit to 3% of the value of the economy, or Gross Domestic Product, by 2014.

The massive 29.3 billion euro Anglo Irish Bank bail-out bill, coupled with the 5.4 billion euro being ploughed into Irish Nationwide and the extra 3 billion euro into AIB, was expected to leave the deficit at a massive 32% of GDP, although Finance Minister Brian Lenihan branded this a one-off spike.

It has been speculated that measures to plug the deficit could see water charges and a property tax on the cards in the coming years, as well as a widening of the tax net to include lower paid workers.

In the Dail, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the figures had left people shocked, confused and angry.

"They felt that having taken salary cuts and pension levies ... that they were really making a contribution towards sorting out the financial crisis and the economic situation that your Government has led the country into," he said.

"And now of course they know the difference."

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