29 April 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Fine Gael Senator for Cork North Central, Colm Burke has said that “the Government’s Spring Economic Statement shows a real vision to spread the recovery to all corners of Ireland, including Cork.”
“The economic recovery is gaining momentum and the Government has a plan to spread its benefits to everyone. After years of hardship caused by the economic crisis and the disastrous policies of the last Government, it is time for better living standards and improved public services for the people of Cork. It is time to give our young emigrants the opportunity to come home. The Government has a plan to achieve this vision and the Spring Economic Statement shows that the plan is already working.
“Since the beginning of the Fine Gael Labour Government, the national deficit has been reduced significantly from €15 billion to €4.5 billion, and our national debt is now moving towards the European average. Thankfully this was achieved with less tax increases and expenditure cuts than anyone thought possible. We ensured that we maintained the core social welfare rates to protect the most vulnerable while getting the economy back on track.We built more schools in the midst of the economic recovery than were built under Fianna Fáil and the Greens in the boom years. In what is the first step towards universal free GP care, 300,000 children and senior citizens who currently have to pay to see their GP, will no longer have to do so from this summer.
“We will achieve the promised 100,000 jobs this year, a year earlier than planned and by 2018, the jobs lost during the crash will have been recovered.
“We are now focused on improving the lot of the so called ‘squeezed middle’- the people who feel they have been paying for everything since the economic crash. Many of these people now find themselves struggling with mortgage arrears, and the Government will make an announcement on this in the coming weeks. Minster Noonan plans to meet with the six main lenders in Irish Banking in May, to discuss their plans for reducing interest rates.
“A cornerstone of the Government’s plan to grow the economy and improve living standards is putting more money back into people’s pocketsthrough reductions in income tax and USC. This is being done in a sensible responsible way that won’t jeopardise the recovery. As Minister Noonan said in his speech to the Dáil, we won’t return to the ‘if I have it I’ll spend it” ways of Fianna Fáil. That approach, which was aimed at buying elections, would represent the single biggest threat to our economic growth.
“By contrast, this Government is focusing on sustainable long term growth. It is estimated that the economy will grow by 4% this year andby 3.25% per year for the next decade. For Budget 2016, Minister Noonan says he will have flexibility of between €1.2- 1.5 billion and that this will be split evenly between tax reductions and spending on vital public services.
“This economic growth and resulting budgetary policy is sustainable and we will ensure that everyone will feel the benefit. The days of austerity are over and Cork should start to feel the beginnings of prosperity again. Historically, Fine Gael in Government has always been about prudent management of the public finances. Minister Noonan repeatedly emphasised that there will be no return to the precarious boom and bust model of the past.”