The Government’s high- profile political promises will cost at least €6.7bn to implement, Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has said.
The Fine Gael cabinet member confirmed the price of the deal for power with Independents during a Dáil debate, in which he rejected claims the Government is threatening unions which have not signed up to the Lansdowne Road agreement.
Responding to questions from Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Dara Calleary over the cost connected to the programme for government deal, he said “the overall cost is €6.7bn over a five-year spend”.
He said the amount spent on the plans will be reviewed “year by year” and “the Dáil will be updated on those estimates”, but stressed the cash is needed to ensure the policies are implemented.
He also said he is planning to review budget ceilings for a number of departments, including health, later this year, in order to stretch the available funds as far as possible.
While significant, the €6.7bn sum relates to all planned spending over the past five years and will not be spent should the Government fall before 2021 as has been widely suggested.
Meanwhile, during the same debate, Mr Donohoe rejected claims from Sinn Féin’s public expenditure spokesman, David Cullinane, that he and the Cabinet are threatening unions which have not signed up to the Lansdowne Road agreement with further cuts.
Asking when a planned public sector pay commission and equal pay commission will be set up and if extending “emergency legislation” such as FEMPI is proof “there is still an emergency”, Mr Cullinane questioned why unions which are not part of the Lansdowne deal are not due to benefit from a growing economy.
However, rejecting any suggestion he is threatening these unions with being left out of salary increases, Mr Donohoe said he cannot agree wage rises for those outside the deal as “the upfront wage increase of today is the wage cut of tomorrow”. He added “we do have to be fair to those unions inside the Lansdowne Road agreement; the benefits it gives them are confined to them”.
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