The Government was tonight branded jaded, wasteful and incompetent and lacking the vision to deliver what the public want.
Opposition parties rounded on the coalition partners claiming they had used the 2006 Estimates to hit taxpayers with more hidden charges.
Richard Bruton, Fine Gael finance spokesman, said the Government’s spending decisions had not changed with the Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat waste juggernaut trundling along.
“You will search in vain in today’s Estimates to see any sign of serious reform. The Government’s alleged conversion to value for money rings hollow,” he said.
“This Government looks set to tax stealthily, spend liberally and invest casually. People are being sold short. The potential is there to perform so much better. What is missing is the courage in Government to embrace serious reform.”
He claimed each household in the country would be stung by an extra €2,200 tax bill when full Budget details were announced.
Joan Burton, Labour Party finance spokeswoman, claimed there was complete lack of vision in the Cabinet.
“The public expect that the Government will use the buoyant tax revenues to close the large gaps in vital public services and just as importantly, greatly improve the efficiency on delivering public services,” she said.
“This Book of Estimates makes it clear that they have no such vision.”
Ms Burton also claimed the Estimates contained yet more stealth taxes with a €5 increase in A&E charges buried in the Health package.
Dan Boyle, Green Party finance spokesman, said: “Overall, this is a hugely disappointing Book of Estimates, with a Minister for Finance and a Government playing ducks and drakes with the electorate.
“We cannot continue with this farce of a financial dance of seven veils. Until the process is reformed, the publication of the Book of Estimates in this form will be an empty exercise.”
Aengus O Snodaigh, Sinn Féin TD, said the Government was betraying the poorest around the world.
“The spending estimate for Overseas Development Aid, while implying a welcome increase in this state’s assistance to developing countries, falls short of a genuine effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” he said.
TD’s also labelled the Government’s Transport 21 plan – which included proposals for new Luas lines, a Metro in Dublin and national road and rail plans - a political fraud.
Meanwhile, IBEC’s director of economic policy Danny McCoy said the Estimates-Budget division was disjointed and would not encourage efficient public spending.
He went on: “The allocation of addition funding for an extra 4,000 childcare places is a move in the right direction but is significantly below the rate of expansion required for the needs of our modern society.”
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions expressed concern about the apparent focus on child benefit as a solution to the childcare crisis.
Congress Economic Advisor Paul Sweeney said: “Increasing Child Benefit is not a solution to the Childcare Crisis. Child benefit is for child rearing – not child caring. It is an important tool for the alleviation of child poverty. This will do very little to address the problems faced by working parents.”
SIPTU, the country’s largest union, claimed the Government was being complacent about the protection of workers’ rights, with no extra funding for Labour Inspectors.