SF pledges to abolish raft of charges

Sinn Féin has promised to repair the damage done from the recession by abolishing a raft of charges and reversing cuts to services if elected to power.

Gerry Adams’ party launched its pre-budget submission yesterday, with proposals to drop the property tax, water charges and prescription charges.

The party said its tax changes and savings had been costed by the Department of Finance.

But Taoiseach Enda Kenny rounded on the party’s alternative plans in the Dáil saying they amounted to “fantasy economics.”

Sinn Féin proposes a neutral budget which will raise €1.7bn in taxes.

Key points include:

- Dropping the property tax — €500m

- Abolishing the water tax — €300m

- A new third rate of tax of 48% on incomes over €100,000 — €448m

- Taking 296,000 people on below €17,542 out of the Universal Social Charge — €138m

- Reintroducing the second home charge and doubling it — €144m

- Restoring the top rate to €188 for young jobseekers — €89m

- A new employers’ PRSI rate of 15.75% on high salaries — €136m

But almost as soon as the party released its plan, there was a row in the Dáil over exactly how much the dropping of water charges costs.

The Taoiseach claimed the move would leave an €850m gap in exchequer funding, €550 more than stated by Mr Adams. Sinn Féin’s budget was “fantasy economics,” he said.

But Irish Water yesterday told the Irish Examiner “it is estimated that approximately €300m will be collected from domestic water charges.”

Mr Kenny also claimed that new taxes for higher incomes “would drive every employer and every potential investor out of the country in terms of the creation of jobs.”

But Mr Adams said: “It contains proposals to rebuild the economy, renew society and to repair the damage done to the community by the Government and by Fianna Fáil before it.”

 

Every one of its proposals was measured against a social consequence, he said.

He defended the party’s plans to drop water charges and turn Irish Water into a public utility company, which he said the party had done in the North.

Party finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said departments had failed to cost some ideas, such as further taxes on oil or gas exploration. The budget plan would put €800m “back in people’s pockets”, he added.

Fianna Fáil will launch its alternative budget proposals tomorrow.


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