Cowen: Plan shows how to adjust
A radical 15 billion euro four-year savings plan will allow Irish households to see how their lives will be affected, Taoiseach Brian Cowen has claimed.
Workers are facing five billion euro more taxes, three billion euro axed from social welfare and the minimum wage cut by one euro by 2014.
Normal business in the Dail was suspended for the day to allow the Opposition to challenge the Government's roadmap to recovery.
Mr Cowen said: "I think that this plan's announcement does give people the opportunity to see what the level of adjustment is in their own lives and plan in their own lives.
"I think everyone in this country, knowing from their own household budget experience, knows that a country cannot continue in the aftermath of a serious crisis the likes of which we have not seen, and one of such magnitude and global impact that it is compared to the 1929 Wall Street Crash."
The 140-page plan detailed on Wednesday gives a package of reforms and savings designed to cut public spending by 10 billion euro and raise another five billion euro in taxes.Other areas targeted are student fees up to 2,000 euro and 1% VAT increases, first to 22% and then 23%.
Trade unionists and rights campaigners warned the lowest paid would be hit with a double-whammy when income tax bands and rates dramatically widen and increase to raise 1.9 billion euro.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny accused the Government of arrogance after finance minister Brian Lenihan branded any alternative to the massive cuts package "nonsense".
Mr Kenny said: "I've never seen a more po-faced, sombre, demoralised beaten crowd. The reason is shining out of their eyes. It's not conviction but guilt.
"The reason it's guilt is because you had the opportunity, the responsibility and influence to change our nation for the better and you failed. The people will savage you when they get their opportunity."