Fine Gael unveils tax reform plans
With the Government's plans for swingeing cuts just days away, Fine Gael has set out a three-pronged approach to tackling the stricken economy.
The main opposition party's budget focuses on job creation, radical public sector reform and tax changes to turn around the Exchequer deficit. Here are the key proposals from Fine Gael:
:: Defer income tax rises to after 2011 and limit changes to bring in about a billion euro (£843 million) extra. No change in standard or top rates or corporation tax;
:: Slash the number of TDs and Senators by 79. Close Fas and the Health Service Executive and abolish 145 quangos;
:: More emphasis on closing tax loopholes - suspend property- based relief, tighten rules on exiles and cut relief on pension plans expect for middle income homes. Target extra tax from those on generous occupational pensions;
:: The party claimed there is three billion euro of social welfare fraud a year which could be targeted through a single Payments and Entitlements system;
:: More than double the planned reduction in public servants, taking 30,000 out of the sector and reduce the Civil Service by one third by creating "shared services operations". Protect the old age pension, and payments to widows, the blind, disabled people and carers;
:: End the 10 euro travel tax and pump 10 million euro into a one-off marketing drive for state agencies to restore Ireland's battered business reputation around the world;
:: Cut employers' costs by abolishing the lower 8.5% rate of PRSI on staff earning below 356 euro a week for at least three years. No minimum wage cut. Cut the lower 13.5% rate of VAT to re-direct consumer spending away from imports and into labour-intensive services such as trades, restaurants, hotels and newspapers.
:: End the home insulation grant scheme in 2013 to force demand into a tight two-year period. Put together a "fairer" tax on property.