Kenny to take pay-cut as example to public sector

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny today vowed to take a 5% wage cut in 2009 as an example to other public service workers.

Launching proposals ahead of next week’s Budget, Mr Kenny also urged Finance Minister Brian Lenihan not to increase personal income tax rates next week.

Fine Gael also demanded 5,000 voluntary redundancies in the public service to reduce its overall wage bill.

Pledging to take the 5% pay cut to his own salary, Mr Kenny said: “This is not an instruction to other TDs to do this. As leader of the Fine Gael party, this shows that I’m prepared to do my bit.

“It won’t change the ISEQ Index or bring back Lehman Brothers but it’s a start. It is a symbolic gesture.”

Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton and deputy finance spokesman Kieran O’Donnell also agreed to accept the 5% pay cut.

Mr Kenny said that he wrote to the Paymaster General earlier today on the issue.

The Opposition party’s pre-Budget Perspectives also called for a €1.5bn euro annual charge on banks for availing of the Government’s guarantee scheme.

It called for 3% savings in all departments to pay for extra social welfare payments and for public spending to remain at 2008 levels.

Public sector workers earning more than €50,000 a year must take a freeze on pay and bonuses and decentralisation proposals must be scrapped, Fine Gael’s document said.

Fine Gael also called for the axing of 30 or more ’quango’ state agencies currently in existence.

Commenting on the overall proposals, Mr Kenny said Ireland was the only country in the EU that was facing so sharp a reversal of the public finances, so steep a rise in unemployment and such a high cost of living.

“These domestic factors, driven by reckless Fianna Fáil budgets, magnify and amplify the problems we now face as a country,” he said.

He added: “With that as the backdrop to the problems we now face, the first thing that needs to happen in next week’s budget is that Fianna Fáil do not make more mistakes and make matters worse – in particular for the most vulnerable and weak in our society.

“It is those who cannot respond who Fianna Fail have tended to target in the past for cuts and savings when things turned bad.

The next thing that needs to happen is that Fianna Fáil in government do not cut the capital programme and do not increase taxes on employment, investment, capital or consumption.“

Mr Bruton called for a ’back to basics’ approach to fixing the economy and to ’hunt down’ waste.

“That means keeping prices low, prudent budgets, strategic investment in infrastructure and education and building our economy on a competitive platform driven by exports,” he said.

“The budget next week will see if Fianna Fáil can break from their bad habits and bad policies that have left Ireland so badly exposed to the external downturn in the economy.”

On the Government’s troubled decentralisation plan, Mr Bruton said: “This botched and crazy version of decentralisation is eating up valuable resources that could be better used elsewhere.”

Mr Bruton urged Mr Lenihan not to impose new taxes on enterprise and to promote R&D as well as upskilling and re-training programmes.

The TD said the approach set out in its proposals “offers a realistic economic road map for the Government.”

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