By Daniel McConnell Political Editor
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has strongly rejected claims he got his figures relating to his planned additional spending wrong, calling on his opponents and the media to prove him wrong.
Speaking at a press event in Dublin this morning, Mr Noonan has also revealed plans to abolish the USC over the lifetime of the Government, but said those earning more than €100,000 will be hit with a 5% clawback.
He said abolishing the “hated USC” has hampered job creation and is socially divisive.
He said he wanted to reduce the marginal rate to 44% and the top rate to 50%.
The clawback will be “phased in” over the lifetime of the Government to avoid people on high incomes benefiting disproportionately from the USC cuts, he said.
But it was as to the credibility of his numbers, Mr Noonan angrily said: “I totally stand over my figures and I did not generate the figures generated in the Department of Finance”.
He said that anyone who asserts his figures are correct and called on anyone who casts doubts on his figures to "Prove it, prove it".
Mr Noonan insisted his numbers do stack up and are not “high maths”.
He said in total Fine Gael is committed to an extra €12bn of spending, which includes €2bn which is already committed to paying public sector pay increases and spending on capital projects.
Speaking at Fine Gael's election HQ, Mr Noonan said that the plan is part of the Fine Gael commitment to 'Making work pay' strand of the economic plan.
He said that "this time five years ago, people were feeling for the first time the shock of the Universal Social Charge deducted from their pay checks.
“The introduction of the USC by Fianna Fáil was the last cat of a failed government and their economic mismanagement that ruined the country. It has become the most hated tax in the history of the state,” he said.