Belfast Telegraph

Budget date announcement next week

The date for budget day will be announced next Tuesday, it has emerged.

Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, said the Cabinet has arranged its weekly meeting as it plans for about four billion euro in estimated cuts and savings.

It is expected the date for Budget 2012 will be the first week of December, with Tuesday December 6 most likely.

Mr Howlin has warned that difficult decisions lie ahead in tackling the deficit but that all decisions will be fair.

"This Government inherited an economic mess and we're determined to put it right," he said. "We are going to make adjustments - the exact quantum of that has not yet been determined. We will make adjustments across all areas of expenditure in a fair way."

Budget savings ranging from 3.6 billion euro to four billion euro are on the cards after Finance Minister Michael Noonan insisted Ireland would meet its commitments to get state finances in line with the bailout arrangements. That would push Budget 2012 closer to the four billion euro savings line.

However, the Government's newly-established Fiscal Advisory Council of five independent economic experts has urged an additional 400 million euro of savings.

The Government was pressed in the Dail to explain speculation that cuts to social welfare are needed to meet the savings, despite promising when entering office that rates would remain the same.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald accused the Labour minister of being a cheerleader for Fianna Fail policy. She said: "You say, minister, that you will not pretend. The great pretence here is that everybody is in this pain together, the great pretence is that you will, in fact, defend the rights of citizens."

Mr Howlin refused to confirm whether cuts would be made to social welfare but said the Government's main aim was to regain its economic sovereignty.


From Belfast Telegraph