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Cowen warns of forthcoming cuts

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Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned of cuts to come in the Budget

Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned of cuts to come in the Budget

Taoiseach Brian Cowen warned of cuts to come in the Budget

Low-income families and those surviving on social welfare payments have been warned they face a hit in the upcoming Budget.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen confirmed the Department of Social Protection will have to make a contribution towards the budgetary adjustments - expected to include 4 billion euro worth of public spending cuts.

He said the scale of the gap between tax intakes and expenditure has to be closed.

"That means a contribution has to be made from all areas of public expenditure, even the areas of public expenditure that one wouldn't be looking at in normal times," added Mr Cowen.

The Taoiseach earlier called on all political parties to show a 'unity of purpose' to get the country through the worst economic crisis since the foundation of the state.

He also told the annual Fianna Fail Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown, Co Kildare, he was pleased the main opposition parties had accepted the country's deficit must drop to 3% within four years - but said agreeing to targets was not necessarily the same as taking action.

"The public have a right to demand that all of their elected representatives engage in a serious discussion about issues which are fundamental to the future of our country," said Mr Cowen. "While we may differ on how to achieve our goals, I know that the opposition leaders will agree with Tone when he said that we are better off conducting our own affairs than be subject to others' control. I hope that this shared conviction will provide the unifying basis for realistic and focused discussion on the best path ahead."

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Senior officials are set to open the Department of Finance books to the opposition and brief politicians on the economy and the multi-billion euro public spending cutbacks needed.

Fine Gael has already indicated it is set to support the objectives of the Government's four year economic strategy and favours a deficit reduction plan that is three parts spending cuts and one part tax increases. The party also plans to launch proposals on reforming the public service, which includes dismantling of the Health Service Executive.


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