Budget: Growing speculation over additional spending

There is growing speculation that the Government will have more than the €1.7bn in extra spending already committed to come Budget Day, writes Daniel McConnell.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail held fresh talks today to discuss the potential make-up of the Budget, as part of the ‘Supply and Confidence’ agreement between the parties.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe met with his Fianna Fail counterpart, Dara Calleary and it is understood the minister refused to rule out completely chances of additional monies being available for the Budget.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan appeared to leave the door open on the issue during his appearance before the new Budgetary Oversight committee on Tuesday.

Sources have confirmed that the meeting between Mr Donohoe and Mr Calleary did not mention specific figures attached to specific demands from Fianna Fail, but was more an initial meeting to set out the process for the coming weeks.

“Very little detail was discussed, that will come in time. We have set out what we are looking for under the terms of the supply and confidence agreement. But the meeting today was about the process and how we will be talking to one another in the coming weeks,” said Mr Calleary.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner tonight, Mr Donohoe said his meeting with Mr Calleary was “very good” and that further such meetings are planned.

Mr Donohoe has to find up to €1bn of extra revenue to cope with our ageing population and the number of children being born, it can be revealed.

This added demand will have to be dealt with before any tax cuts or spending rises can be considered he said. This means that the total additional spending to be announced in October’s budget will have to top €1.7bn, rather than the €600m previously stated by the Government.

Investment in education, an increased old-age pension and investment in healthcare are among the key priorities being sought by Fianna Fail.

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