If our €24bn gap doesn’t start to close soon, we’ll make the Greeks look prudent

LISTENING to Brian Lenihan, and many commentators, you would think we are well on the way to sorting our €24bn fiscal deficit.

The actual figures prove otherwise.

The January figures show that, after two “tough” budgets, the deficit was actually worse than in January 2009. Compared to then, government expenditure dropped 12% while income dropped 17%. Far from stabilising the situation, the gap has got worse.

Anyway “stabilising” the situation in a €24bn hole is crazy. We must rapidly start climbing out of this hole or the accumulated deficit over a few years will make the cost of NAMA look like small change.

Also the proposed €1.3bn cut in the €20bn public pay bill this year is derisory.

The horrendous truth is that this pay bill must be cut by at least €1 bn per month to have any hope of balancing the books within a few years.

Hopefully my pessimism will be dispelled by the February figures. But if the €24bn gap is not closing we must brace ourselves for a ride that will make the Greeks’ situation – they don’t have NAMA or blanket bank guarantees to contend with – look like a walk in the park.

Dick Keane

Silchester Park

Glenageary

Co Dublin

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