Coalition borrowing money to buy votes, says Opposition finance spokesman

The Government have been accused of using the budget to buy votes and of disproportionately putting more money into the pockets of higher earners.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath made the claim as he dissected the Coalition’s spending and tax plans for next year and claimed they lacked a vision for post-austerity Ireland.

The Cork South Central TD said a couple on a joint income of €41,000 a year would only benefit by €174 a year compared to a couple on €70,000, who would get an extra €1,500 next year.

Mr McGrath also claimed that an individual on €32,000 a year would get tax cuts of €174 next year but at the same time would face water charges of several hundred euro.

The Fine Gael-Labour coalition was borrowing money for the budget to “buy votes”, he claimed, adding that their tax proposals were “unfair”.

Criticising Labour’s attempt to promote the budget measures in recent days, particularly for welfare recipients, Mr McGrath said such propaganda would not be heard of in North Korea.

Cuts to income taxes would “disproportionately put far more money in pockets of higher earners”, he said.

Mr McGrath claimed that two thirds of the work on leaving the recession was done for them by the last Fianna Fáil-led government.

He warned that instead of a cautious budget, the Coalition were going the opposite direction, against the advice of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council.

Instead, Mr McGrath claimed that Coalition ministers were using the budget as a “lifeboat to try and save their backbenchers”, adding that “auction politics was wrong in the past and is wrong now”.

Public expenditure spokesman Seán Fleming said that people could not get hospital appointments and children were being taught in packed classrooms but the Coalition’s response was to give tax cuts to the high earners.

He claimed there was a €460m black hole in the planned health spending.

He also warned that the Government was only planning to increase health spending by 1.6% over the next three years.

Environment spokesman Barry Cowen said there were no measures in the budget to deal with the problems faced by renters who will be excluded from the housing market by new central bank demands on savings.

He added: “Tackling the housing crisis across both private and social sectors should be the focus of this Government. This budget does little for the long-term health of the sector and little for those struggling to keep up with rents.”


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