Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has accepted the €16,000 top-up allowance for super junior ministers “has caused a great deal of annoyance” to people, but defended their introduction.
Speaking on Sunday, Mr Donohoe said the decision to introduce the top-up for super junior ministers on top of their €124,000 salary is to create a situation that all ministers were being paid the same. In the last government, because of the rules, two additional junior ministers sat at the Cabinet table but were paid less than others.
“Well we were dealing with a specific matter. We have a number of ministers of state who sit around the cabinet table that were being paid differently. We were looking to get to a point that if they were all doing the same work, that they were paid the same,” he said.
“But all that being said, I do accept that this is causing a grave annoyance and anger for some who are listening to this at the moment, but I have asked them just to place this in the context of a huge, huge variety of different measures that we announced last week that are all about getting people back to work on all about growing incomes again,” Mr Donohoe, a Dublin-Central TD said.
He said the decision to level the playing field must be kept in the context of the €5bn plus stimulus package announced by the Government last week.
“I can absolutely understand the anger that this is causing for some. But I'd also make the point up with doing that in the week, in which we announced the €5bn stimulus plan for the economy, in which we extended the wage subsidy scheme into next year, and we made the changes and the pandemic unemployment payment over a very long time period,” he said.
Mr Donohoe also defended the decision to introduce a temporary reduction in the 23% VAT rate to 21% as opposed to repeating the previous cut for the hospitality sector.
He said this cut will have a broader impact on the economy which is attempting to kick start back into life after the Covid-19 pandemic forced the country to be shut down in March.
“We're doing a broader offer off a far broader range of products," he said.
He said the phasing out of the pandemic employment payment is also happening in the context of doing that over many, many months on many many changes. And the final changes of this will be taking place across March and April of next year.
In relation to the banks refusing to offer mortgages to those people whose companies are on the wage subsidy scheme, Mr Donohoe said there should be no blanket refusals of applications.
Mr Donohoe also said that in the coming early part of next year, we still may have many of our citizens participating in the wage subsidy scheme.
“Depending on it for income and in those situations it's up to every bank to evaluate in accordance with regulations of the central bank, whether somebody should be getting a mortgage and what level that mortgage should be at,” he said.
“Well I've talked to all the banks in relation to this matter who have been involved in this issue, and it continues to be the case that the evaluation of mortgages and mortgages drawdown is being done on a case by case basis,” he added.
He said that if a person or a couple’s company are on the wage subsidy scheme, it is a sign that the income that the company that they're in does need additional support. “But just because they need that additional support, it doesn't mean the company or the employer or with won't continue to be viable and successful for many, many years to come,” he said.