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Lenihan hit the defenceless and missed bankers

FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan’s skydiving budget was not the key to success in attempting to solve Ireland’s economic future – rather the reverse.

What should have been incorporated in his plan was a progressive stimulus package that would help create employment, encourage new industry and investment and boost existing enterprise. No such support was offered.

Instead he settled on a course of action that will demoralise and demotivate the young and the unemployed, as well as those whose efforts we depend on to keep the economy mobile.

Aiming for €760 million in social welfare cuts and chopping child benefit by €120m was a mean action that hit the defenceless most.

Apart from expanding IFC activities, the financial sector – the country’s biggest headache – was overlooked in the budget. These were the irresponsible institutions the Government propped up and bolstered with billions of taxpayers’ money, and will continue to do so with NAMA. Why didn’t the finance minister place levies on bank dealings and transactions and a cap on executives’ bonuses? Regulation wasn’t even mentioned or penalties for not abiding by the rules – never mind a warning that their licences would be revoked in the event of continuous non-compliance.

Even British chancellor Alistair Darling didn’t let the City go unscathed in his “four-year plan” budget. The 20% excise cut on alcohol will encourage socialising and hopefully bring more jobs in the pub trade, but a 12% levy on off-licences would have helped to discourage excessive home drinking and make it less accessible to the under-aged.

The minister missed out on the goose that lays the golden egg – the €800m National Lottery. A 10% tax incorporated in the price of all National Lottery products would bring a steady flow of cash to the Exchequer without robbing anybody’s pocket.

Finally, one for the Greens – rather than a complicated property tax, why not consider a simple €5 levy on every chimney in the country?

James Gleeson



Co Tipperary


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