The chair of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has warned political parties to keep “everything on the table” including tax increases.
Sebastian Barnes said that “hard decisions” will have to be made to deliver some of the Government’s ambitious objectives.
He made the comments as Government formation talks between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and the Green Party continue on Monday.
He told RTE Morning Ireland said the uncertainty brought around by Covid-19 leaves no political party in a position to make commitments, including not to increase taxes.
As the politicians are sitting around the table thinking about the next five years, it is likely they will have to ask these questions particularly if they want to meet their ambitious programmes about whether the tax needs to go upSebastian Barnes
“It’s important to keep everything on the table so once things settle down, politicians have a full range of choices to decide both how to deal with the lasting impact and deliver with some of the ambitious objectives like Slaintecare, housing and climate change,” Mr Barnes said.
He said that the Government should consider three different timescales.
“Right now we’re still in the emergency phase and it’s right the Government’s putting a lot of money into the economy to support those businesses and support people through this period,” he added.
“I think even after the confinement measures are lifted, demand will still be very weak, unemployment will be high and so exactly for that reason, the Government will need to continue borrowing to continue spending and not to particularly focus on increasing taxes in that period so people have money in their pockets so they can spend and get the economy going again.
“What we’re really talking about in terms of likely or potential future tax increases is really over a longer period.
“As the politicians are sitting around the table thinking about the next five years, it is likely they will have to ask these questions particularly if they want to meet their ambitious programmes about whether the tax needs to go up.
“That’s why it’s important to keep those options on the table.”
Meanwhile, the president of Dublin City University (DCU), Brian MacCraith, said he does not believe the new calculated grades system will discriminate against students.
It was announced on Friday that the Leaving Certificate examinations will not go ahead this summer as a result of the pandemic.
Instead, students will have the option of receiving grades calculated by their teachers based on their school work.
Students have the option to sit the exam at a later date but it will not be in time for when colleges open in September.
Mr MacCraith said the new system addresses “potential hazards” for students and their families.
“It provides certainty and reduces the stress burden on students,” he added.
“The second point is that universities will use the calculated grade system provided by this process in exactly the same way as for the routine Leaving Certificate because we trust the model.”
Mr MacCraith said he is “very impressed” by what he described as a multi-faceted system that is fair and equitable.
“First of all, you’ve got three elements at the school level – each subject teacher provides an estimate percentage mark and rank for each student in each subject and that is checked by other teachers in schools and signed by the principal.
“They look at the results for each student and the group of students in the junior certificates. So they are trying to ensure that no school is either being too harsh or too lenient in estimating the marks of each student.
“I think that sort of robust and rigorous approach takes account of the high performer in a disadvantaged school.
“It allows for outliers because it’s not a narrow band, it is a broad distribution.
“Most importantly… you must accept here is that we must trust in the professionalism of teachers, because ultimately the success of this comes down to teachers providing ways of reasonably accurate estimates of expected performances of students.”