FINE GAEL has insisted it is not them, but Taoiseach Brian Cowen who is trying to “cod” the public on the budget math.
On Sunday, Mr Cowen derided Fine Gael’s claims that it could restore the public finances to health by 2012 without increasing income tax rates. Fine Gael also proposed offering business tax cuts of €340 million to help protect jobs.
“We have to take action on the revenue side, and any suggestions to the contrary are simply trying to cod people,” Mr Cowen said.
However, Fine Gael shot back yesterday, insisting the country could not tax its way out of recession.
“Brian Cowen is codding the public, if he thinks the Government can tax its way back to recovery,” Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton said. “If the Government persists with its misguided approach it will take the country down a road that can only lead to ruin.”
Fine Gael believes that, by taxing people and businesses too heavily, the Government risks further depressing consumer confidence and placing jobs at risk. The party claims the Government should instead seek to cut the cost of running the country by 20% and protect tax competitiveness by keeping some business taxes low and reducing others.
“Brian Cowen seems to believe we should abandon our tax competitiveness to fill the hole created by his mismanagement. This would be a serious error. It would stifle our recovery, damage job creation and impose further hardship,” said Mr Bruton.
His party colleague Alan Shatter said a lecture from the Government on budgetary matters “deserves no more credibility than a lecture from an alcoholic on sobriety”.
The Government was solely responsible for Ireland’s woes, he insisted, adding that the concern was that it would get it wrong again in today’s budget.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the key issue in the budget would be whether it did anything to protect and create jobs.
“Time and again, I have argued the point that every person on the live register costs the state €20,000 in higher spending and lower taxation,” he said. “We simply must develop strategies that put job creation front and centre.”
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