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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lenihan looks after the little people

So we’re there and it’s budget time. Much of the speculation is on how the ordinary citizen is going to be affected. You know it's as if deep down we’re putting a price on the recession, how much do I have to pay to take a trip back down memory lane to the land of milk and honey that was Celtic Tiger Ireland. Perhaps we’re looking at the balancing act that Brian Lenihan must perform from the wrong place. Given that he’s limited in how much revenue he can raise, maybe we should be anticipating how much we’ll miss as opposed how much we’ll have to pay. But rest assured this FF/Green government is looking after the little people. Traditionally the little people were the ones who hid the gold where it could never be found. I'm delighted to know that in these recessionary times FF core values still apply!

If you believe the newspapers, you’ll see means testing of medical cards for those over 70, a reduction in the early childcare payment for children under 6, 5,000 jobs to go in the public service (1K of these in HSE), Ministerial pay to drop 10%, introduce a scheme to kick start house sales, abolition of PRSI ceiling on salaries, standard rating of personal relief, Carbon tax, increase in excise duty, an increase of 1% in top rate of PAYE, sale of 2 army barracks, the introduction of €10 departure tax, a scheme to encourage insulation in schools and public buildings and after all that borrowing of €8B to balance the books

Lets think local on this one and ask what about the critical infrastructure Wexford needs. Our swimming pool should have started construction by now so will next week’s budget accelerate that project? Our library has had the archaeological survey done on the site but as yet the site is shuttered from view by a hoarding with a picture of the finished building. During the 2007 election our local FF candidate said that our second bridge was on schedule. The project hasn’t been mentioned in 18 months and its absence limits the chance to bring jobs to the town. Indeed when I met the Minister for Environment in February and raised the matter with him he looked puzzled! Our N25 dual carriageway to Rosslare was also promised in 2007 by someone who knows about prioritising or maybe it’s slipped Bertie Ahern’s mind, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s forgotten something important! Our local secondary school that was promised a €1M extension and all they got was a 2 room pre-fab see above.

All of these projects should have been underway in our town but in the last 12 months they’ve slid down the government’s to do list. That’s the real price of Cowenomics and those ordinary people who pay it are just as important as the bankers who were fast tracked to their guarantee. When developers were getting tax breaks to build like there was no tomorrow, the tax foregone should have been used on expanding our infrastructure and not hoping against hope that we could play catch up later.

So when you’re topping up mid week on home heating oil for the year ahead to avoid the Carbon tax, bought your alcohol early for Christmas ’08, filled up the tank on budget day to save a few bob because you’ve a pay freeze for 11 months, just remember it could have been very different if we hadn’t binged out on the bankers and builders in the last 10 years.

1 comment:

Daragh said...

Good grief. My wallet would go to A&E to get treatment for the mugging it just took, but I can't afford the increased charges.

A few things hit my household directly... the 1% levy, the change in the med1 rates (a big impact for us for a variety of reasons), the changes to mortgage interest relief etc. Broadening tax bands cushions things a little, but not much.

I'm pissed off at the bike tax credit. I'm a poster-boy for eco-friendly long haul commuting and only this summer spent nearly a grand on a foldable mountain bike that I could ride on our (crap) road from castlebridge to wexford to take the train and then cycle from Pearse to up near Heuston station. If this relief is backdated to the summer then I'm OK with it as I can claim back the 1k+ I've spent on kit. Otherwise I'm peeved.

What annoys me most is that there is nothing in the budget to encourage development of indigenous sme businesses or to actually tackle overstaffing in the public sector or address gross inefficiencies in government departments and wasteful spend on government projects (for example the web-based system that they brought in in the land registry/register of deeds is a bad joke).

As ever, the private sector paye 30-something is punched in the fiscal kidneys until they pass blood while those who were 'inside the tent' so to speak benefit.

grrrh... when i've calmed down and have looked over more of the details i'll write a post o' me own over on obriend.info