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Election battle to focus on economy, stamp duty

STAMP duty and the economy opened up as the central battlefields of the phoney election war last night as the Government and Rainbow Alternative locked horns.

Finance Minister Brian Cowen accused the opposition of being ready to cave in to European demands for a harmonised tax system as he pledged only Fianna Fáil could create 250,000 over the next five years.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael insisted Mr Cowen had missed his chance to re-balance the stamp duty system as the Rainbow parties prepared to unveil their alternate scheme for homebuyers.

The FF jobs blueprint outlined funding for R&D, support for smaller businesses in export markets and a scheme to upskill hundreds of thousands of workers.

And Mr Cowen said he would face down EU tax harmonisation proposals which meant Ireland would have to increase its 12.5% corporation tax.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny dismissed Mr Cowen’s claims and demanded the Taoiseach call the election and "let the people decide".