The document on policies agreed between the two parties is divided into six sections. The near three-year deal is entitled the ‘confidence and supply arrangement for a Fine Gael-led government’.
It also proposes that any opposition bill, that are not money bills, pass second stage and proceed to committee stage within 10 working weeks. The deal, surprisingly, also states that Fine Gael will have an “open approach to avoiding policy approaches”. A ‘reformed budgetary’ process will also begin.
On the economy, the document commits Fine Gael to at least a 2:1 split between investment and public spending and tax reductions. USC will also be cut for low and middle income earners.
The deal also means both parties support the current industrial relations mechanisms, including the workplace relations commission, to deal with any public sector pay matters. Full implementation of the Lansdowne Road Agreement has also been agreed by both sides. However, as expected, a separate commission will be set up to examine public pay, including entry level pay. The deal also commits the new government to “tackle” the lack of job security and the casualisation of work.
On housing, the deal compels the new government to expedite the delivery of social housing and to remove the barriers to private housing but it does not say by how much or how.
Mortgage interest relief will be retained in 2017 and rent supplement will be increased. Additional supports for those in mortgage arrears will be agreed, the deal says.
The deal also commits Fine Gael to improving supports and services for older people, including possible pension increases.
The deal also commits the incoming government to introducing a PRSI scheme for the self-employed. It also says that capital investment will also be increased for transport, broadband, health and flood defences but only after a review of such spending in mid-2017.
The deal has also focussed significantly on health, with plans to create a five-year health service plan in a bid to end what Micheál Martin has previously claimed are “fraudulent” system budgets.
The move — which the document notes will be based on “verifiable” financial predictions — has been long called for by the Irish Medical Organisation which believes it will allow hospitals to properly plan for future needs.
A commitment to a “humane” discretionary medical cards approach is also included in the deal while €15m has been ring-fenced for the return of the National Treatment Purchase Fund next year to cut waiting lists, two issues which caused the previous government repeated difficulties.
Outside of health, the long-awaited document has also confirmed plans to employ 15,000 more gardaí and instigate a review of where garda stations are located, moves directly linked to politically damaging service cutback concerns.
It has also committed to introducing a new PRSI scheme for the self-employed to help bring down costs, a move that has been called for in the past by rural politicians and farmer representatives.
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