Government asks public for ideas on cuts

THE Government has appealed for the public’s help in identifying ways to slash public spending.

Citing the huge financial pressures on the country, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin asked people to submit “creative, constructive proposals” for saving money.

“The challenge facing our country is so great that no reasonable proposal can be ignored,” he said, inviting submissions on everything from wasteful practices to the future of state agencies.

The appeal came as Taoiseach Enda Kenny was accused of “covering up” the potentially harmful effects of raiding pensions to fund the Government’s jobs initiative.

Mr Howlin said the public consultation exercise would feed into the Government’s comprehensive spending review, which is expected to be finished in September.

The review will dictate how public services will be funded in the years to come, and where cutbacks will be made. The first results of the review will likely be seen in December’s budget, when the Government will have to find €3.6 billion of savings to meet EU and IMF terms.

Mr Howlin said any savings identified by the public would go towards meeting the Government’s “targets for fiscal consolidation over the coming years”.

“I am looking for ideas from everyone and anyone, whether from the public or private sectors,” he said.

A website — comprehensive-review-of-expenditure — has been set up for submissions.

The Cabinet also signed off yesterday on establishing an independent “fiscal advisory council” to scrutinise its economic policies.

The council will provide an independent assessment of the Government’s budgets and forecasting, and point out potential errors.

The developments came as Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused the Taoiseach of “covering up” a warning by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton that levying pensions to fund the jobs initiative could have negative effects.

But Mr Kenny dismissed accusations of a cover-up as “balderdash” and insisted the pensions revenue was needed to fund the €500 million jobs initiative.

Kenny rating

THE public has warmed to Enda Kenny as Taoiseach, a poll shows.

Fine Gael’s support has hit 42%, up from 36% at the election.

Labour remains unchanged on 19%.

Mr Kenny’s personal approval ratings have risen 26 points to 65% since the corresponding Irish Independent-Millward Brown Lansdowne poll in February.


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