THE European Commission’s stiff warning to the Government over budget targets for 2015 and 2016 cannot be sensibly ignored. That response must stand even if it means that some of our ambitions are deferred. The warning is particularly pertinent as an election looms.
Nearly every election campaign in the history of the State has been, to a greater or lesser degree, an auction where the auctioneers sell debt disguised as manna from heaven to a susceptible public. To rub salt into the wound they then patronise us by calling us a sophisticated electorate; a sophistication usually reflected in soaring public debt and, eventually, poorer public services.
The warning can be seen as an extension of the sense of drift apparent immediately after the troika’s overseers left the country. Left to our own devices we will spend the rewards of the first signs of recovery, even though the EC suggests that debt reduction would be a far better long-term option. If we have it, we’ll spend it as it were.
Despite raising concerns about the prospect of pay rises in the public sector, the report did not concentrate on spending plans. It also pointed out that expenditure on healthcare is comparatively high but that our outcomes are no better than average. It also reminded us that “limited progress has been made towards reducing the cost of legal services”, confirming our poor record in confronting powerful vested interests. Basically, they told us we are our own worst enemies.
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