Fine Gael criticises capital investment plan

Fine Gael has today hit out at the Government's capital investment plan.

The Taoiseach yesterday unveiled a €39bn schedule of spending that runs up to 2016.

That is nearly half the amount pledged in the previous national development plan, which is due to expire in three year's time.

The Government's lack of detail is also causing concern for Fine Gael.

"The spending plan announced today represents a €14bn reduction in the spending that the Government had committed to between 2011 and 2013 under the original National Development Plan," said Bruton.

"This is a 45% reduction in the investment programme. Based on ESRI estimates, that cut in investment means 140,000 fewer jobs in the construction phase alone."

"It is of course understandable that the capital programme has to be cut with resources scarce. However, in the past Ireland has paid dearly for using cuts in capital spending as the easy way out of a financial crisis. Such cuts undermine the future capacity of the economy.

"The current balance between slashing investment and restructuring government is a vital one for our recovery. The Government have got this balance totally wrong to date."

"The Government claims that a priority for employment underpins the choices made in the revised plan for capital spending. If this is the case, they must publish the criteria used and show how the projects being selected stack up in terms of the employment impact and the rate of return for taxpayers.

"With this Government’s record, the public have absolutely no reason to take on faith the judgements of Brian Cowen and his party."

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