Taoiseach: Tax cuts likely as Ireland facing 'public health emergency which has become a recession'

Taoiseach: Tax cuts likely as Ireland facing 'public health emergency which has become a recession'

Update: Tax cuts are likely to be deployed by the incoming government in a bid to stimulate the country out of recession, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

He said this has been done before at times of deep recession and it has been found to work.

“Potentially yes we could,” he said. “It should not come as big shocker.

"One of the things to stimulate the economy in 2011 and 2012 was the reduction in VAT in labour intensive areas of the economy,” he said.

He warned that to follow such policies the country will need to retain the ability to borrow money on international markets.

He said the Covid-19 crisis has seen the country effectively “put to sleep” and confirmed the economy is heading into recesssion.

Speaking at a briefing in Government Buildings, Mr Varadkar said:

The economic picture is very bad, we have suffered a sudden sharp and unexpected shock to our economy.

He was speaking after the Cabinet held a short incorporeal meeting during which it agreed to delay new arrangements for the appointment of special needs assistants by a year, because of the crisis.

Mr Varadkar also chaired a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee which heard an update from the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan who was back at work following a health scare.

Commenting after the deaths of 13 more people who had contracted the virus, Mr Varadkar said it was “another sad day for Ireland”.

Mr Varadkar restated that as things stand, the State exams in the summer will go ahead.

He said the government wants all Leaving Cert students to start college in October.

He said education minister Joe McHugh is working "really hard" on options, and advises students who are studying to continue to do so.

He said the Leaving Cert will happen by "hook or by crook"

In relation to the public health response to the Covid-19 crisis, Mr Varadkar said progress has been made but “it is not enough”.

He said the country's hospitals are “very quiet” saying there are 2,000 vacant public beds and spare ICU beds for when the surge comes, and it will come he said.

He said it will be next week before we can make a decision as to whether restrictions imposed on the country can be relaxed.

He said they need to wait to see what the pressure is on ICU beds at that stage before any decision can be taken.

He also warned about secondary deaths occuring because people with underlying conditions are staying away from hospitals.

“We very much encourage people who are suffering symptoms to contact the health care professionals because we do not want them missing out,” he said.

He said that while contract tracing has increased it is still not where it needs to be.

“We are not where we want to be or where we thought we would be a couple of weeks ago when it comes to testing,” he said.

“We are asking people to bear with us,” he added.

Meanwhile, the government confirmed this evening that new Garda powers, contained in Emergency #Covid19 legislation passed by by the Dáil last week, have yet to be transferred to the force.

“The associated regulations are being finalised,” it said. The powers relate to enforcing limits on public gatherings.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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