Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has said that he has been advised that he cannot block pay rises for high earners in the public service.
Around 500 public-sector workers earning more than €100,000 are due to get incremental pay rises this year.
Opposition parties want the Government to use legislation to stop the increments for those on higher wages.
However, Minister Howlin said that he has been advised that to do so using emergency financial legislation would be not be justified.
"The two criteria, the two pillars on which that legalisation is built is that the legislation has general application, and secondly that it makes a contribution to the financial recovery," he said.
"The problem with targeting a couple of hundred people is it doesn't have general application and two, the money that would be saved couldn't be argued to make a substantial contribution."