€1bn budget spend but ‘no giveaway’

The Government will have an additional €1bn to spend on improving services or reducing taxes in the budget, but it will not be a “giveaway”, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Varadkar said ministers in the Government must not use the coming months to engage in negotiating their budget demands over the airwaves, and called on his colleagues to desist from making such comments.

“One of the most important things, is that none of us falls into the trap of negotiating budgets over the airwaves. We have to guard against that,” he said.

“A big part of the job for Government will be to contain expectations. It is not going to be a giveaway budget, it will be a prudent budget. We must not engage in too much public posturing,” he said on RTÉ News.

Mr Varadkar also said that the Government is “very concerned” at suggestions that vulture funds may be using tax avoidance methods in this country.

He was speaking as it emerged that officials from the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners are investigating whether so-called vulture funds are using a clause in Irish law to pay small amounts of tax here.

Mr Varadkar said that Ireland needs to make sure that the country’s tax base is not eroded and that no reputational damage is done to the country.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the alleged tax avoidance was “outrageous”. It emerged that companies making tens of millions from property here are paying as little as €250 to Revenue.


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