Fine Gael TDs fearful of a backlash over carbon tax hikes want tomorrow's budget to include a 'transition fund' for new jobs as well increases in fuel allowances for poorer families.
Government party TDs launched attacks on opposition spending promises today while also claiming the general public actually want a "prudent budget" to prepare the country for a possible hard Brexit.
Speaking at Leinster House, Laois-Offaly TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy called for a “just transition” for everybody and for carbon tax rises to be ringfenced for climate action measures.
"The just transition impact on the workers in Bord na Mona or other peat workers must be to the top priority of consideration. Therefor I want to see a midlands regional transition fund."
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe is set to increase carbon taxes by €6 in tomorrow's budget, bringing to €26 the charge for using a tonne of carbon. This will put up the cost of a filling a car with fuel by around €1.50. It will also see hikes in the cost of heating oil, briquettes and coal.
The last 24 hours have seen ministers press for compensation measures to alleviate any impact of the carbon tax hike, particularly for rural dwellers, hauliers and small businesses.
Ms Corcoran Kennedy suggested that less-well people would be compensated with increases in fuel allowances:
If you have old age pensioners who are dependent on solid fuel, it will be allowed for in the fuel allowance. That is as I understand how this [will work].
However, Fine Gael TDs also took issue with opposition alternative budget promises, including measures they claim Fianna Fail have pledged that they say amount to close to €4bn.
TD Colm Brophy said the Green Party and Sinn Féin had ignored any prospect of a possible no-deal Brexit. Figures from the two parties did “not stack up,” argued the TD.
Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon also reiterated that he wants watchdog IFAC to go through opposition spending proposals.
TD Peter Burke criticised the opposition parties for offering something for “everyone in the audience”.
Mr Brophy disagreed that the estimated €450m overruns in departments were significant. He said they were small amounts, including the estimated €300 bailout needed in health.
The Fine Gael government would be "prudent", insisted Mr Brophy, and the public had indicated that they “want a prudent budget”, he said.