Cowen and Lenihan differ on plan to tackle recession

THE Taoiseach and Finance Minister sent out conflicting signals yesterday on how the Government would tackle Ireland’s dive into recession.

Brian Cowen said the Government would stick to its budget plans for this year and look to cut spending in 2009 and 2010.

But Brian Lenihan signalled cutbacks would begin immediately, saying the Government had to act without delay.

Asked which version was correct, a spokesman for Mr Cowen said he had “no intelligence” on whether the Government’s corrective course of action would begin this year or next year.

In an RTÉ interview at lunchtime, Mr Lenihan said he would decide the right course of action when half- year revenue receipts are available next Wednesday.

But he indicated that spending cutbacks could be expected immediately: “On the spending front, if we are to take action, we have to start taking action now because the reality is you cannot reposition spending for 2009 unless you start taking action in 2008.”

But just a few hours later in the Dáil, Mr Cowen insisted the Government would stick to its spending plans this year: “The Government intends to ensure that we proceed with our budgets and our expenditure programmes in line with our plans for this year.”


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