TAX hikes for high earners and wage caps for the public service form the central plank of Labour’s blueprint for economic recovery.
Launching its pre-budget programme for reform, party leader Eamon Gilmore said taking 100,000 people off the dole queues by the end of next year would be his priority in government.
Mr Gilmore said the jobs initiative would cost €1.1bn and that €1.3bn could be saved on the public sector pay rolls by imposing wage caps on top salaries and negotiating with unions for a 6.75% pay bill reduction in each agency.
Those earning more than €100,000 per year would be subjected to a top rate of 48% to bring in an extra €335m.
Labour would put job creation at the centre of its plans with a PRSI scheme for new jobs, an additional 60,000 training and work experience placements and the “fast-tracking of labour-intensive capital projects”.
An “industrial peace” scheme would see unions agreeing not to order strikes and guarantee industrial calm in return for the investment in employment.
Relief for mortgage payers in arrears would also come in the form of a statutory home guarantee for those facing difficulties meeting repayments.
Mr Gilmore said the €1.1bn jobs fund would be allocated by a ministerial task force and it would be the driving force of government strategy.
“Far more than a simply pre-budget statement, this is a programme for jobs and economic recovery,” he said.
“The problem in the public finances has to be faced up to now, it can’t be postponed, but it must be done in a way aimed at getting people back to work,” he said.
Labour plans to bring in an extra €2.35bn via a series of tax-raising initiatives and the closing off of loopholes.
Mr Gilmore said that a carbon tax would generate €500m, ending property reliefs will produce €435m and reducing pensions reliefs will see the state gain €330m.
Labour would also restore the Christmas bonus for welfare recipients and would not cut benefits or child allowance if it was in power, Mr Gilmore added.
“A simple adjustment to our public finances, while necessary, is not enough on its own. The biggest economic and social problem facing us remains unemployment.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved