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Making life easier for families and protecting our environment are Budget 2020 priorities – Fine Gael

-   Fine Gael Press Office

Opposition party proposals and spending calls are reckless with no-deal Brexit imminent

Ahead of Budget 2020, Fine Gael is ensuring the correct measures are taken to prepare Ireland for a no-deal Brexit. We are also prioritising action on climate, investment in our infrastructure and we are making life easier for families as opposed to the rash and reckless fantasy economics of opposition parties.

Whereas recklessness from previous administrations, led by those still sitting in the Dáil, led to the Troika assuming responsibility for our national finances, Fine Gael’s responsible approach is ensuring that Ireland faces the challenges of Brexit from a position of strength.

A Just Transition with Climate Action

Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said this and every budget from here on must be a climate budget.

“Experience has shown you can take the right environmental actions for the right reasons. Everyone in this country is well aware we need to protect our environment. Our young people are proving inspirational as they champion the cause. Action must be taken.

“There is cross-party support to increase the price of carbon from €20 today to €80 per tonne by 2030. Fine Gael, through its work on the Climate Action Committee was central to developing that consensus. We know that this will not be easy for all, so we want a series of small and planned annual increases in the Carbon pricing between now and 2030, rather than big hikes in any one year.

“Monies collected must be clearly ring-fenced to fund new climate action and to protect those most exposed to higher fuel and energy costs and for whom new jobs must be found. We discussed this at our Think In in September, and it was the clear view of our Parliamentary Party that there be strong supports from the revenue raised from the Carbon Tax for those most in need, especially the elderly. There must also be a strong package of support for the midlands given the impact that the move away from fuels like peat will have on employers like Bord na Móna and the region more generally.

Fine Gael delivering for families

Deputy Kate O’Connell said that since this Government took office, Fine Gael has been delivering for families and is determined to build on this.

“We are committed to extending free GP care to all children aged between 6-12 years. This is being done on a phased basis, starting next year. It is important we demonstrate our commitment to this policy by providing funding for six and seven-year olds in Budget 2020,” Deputy O’Connell said.

“Childcare is too expensive. That is why over the last four years we focused on tackling childcare costs. As more investment is made, families will benefit more based on their income,” she said.

“For the first time ever, there are almost 200,000 children benefitting from government childcare initiatives. The National Childcare Scheme will extend more financial support to parents. It will make childcare more affordable, fairer, and a bridge, not a barrier, to opportunity. It will open in the coming weeks to online applications.

“Also from next month, we are introducing a new Parental Leave Scheme offering two weeks paid leave for both parents; benefiting up to 60,000 parents annually. We are committed to increasing this on a phased basis to seven weeks over the next three years,” Deputy O’Connell said.

Coalition of Chaos are not even planning for Brexit

Sinn Féin, Labour and the Greens are all basing their alternative budgets on an orderly Brexit.

“This is despite the daily chaos and deep uncertainty surrounding Brexit,” Deputy Colm Brophy said.

“This gives the parties a facade of fantasy prudence, as they can increase spending and still claim to have a surplus. But it is not realistic and basing economic policies on rosy predictions is ridiculous. The Greens do not have one single Brexit related policy in their submission – but are well able to talk about the reintroduction of wolves to Ireland.

“Sinn Féin, Labour and the Greens all want to increase taxes. In total, Sinn Féin have prosed €2.88bn in new taxes as a result of 18 separate tax increases, the Greens have proposed over €2.1bn and Labour €1.4bn,” Deputy Brophy said.

Fianna Fáil can’t answer how they will pay for continuous spending demands

A month after revealing reckless Fianna Fáil called for a staggering €4.35bn in spending demands in first half of 2019, Deputy Peter Burke said not a single Fianna Fáil representative has explained how they will pay for all their demands.

“This is shocking. Micheál Martin has failed repeatedly to explain how he would meet all his party’s spending demands. And these expensive calls, with no thought or policy, continued unabated. Fianna Fáil promise spending for everyone but have plans for absolutely nothing. They would return this country to the clutches of the IMF,” Deputy Burke said.

IFAC to examine Opposition spending calls

Fine Gael Parliamentary Party Chairman Martin Heydon, says it is high time spending demands from the opposition are examined by the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC) and has drafted and submitted to the Bills Office, a Private Member’s Bill; the Fiscal Responsibility Act (Amendment) Bill 2019.

“Recently, IFAC Chair Seamus Coffey pointed out that in other countries bodies with a similar role to IFAC review the spending demands set out by opposition parties.

“If passed, this Bill would allow IFAC to review the proposals of opposition political parties in advance of each Budget and report on whether their approach is conducive to prudent economic and budgetary management.

“Fianna Fáil have since been quick to dismiss the Bill and my calls to have opposition parties’ plans costed by the IFAC as childish.

“This is quite a turnaround. In 2015 Fianna Fáil brought forward their own legislation to ‘establish a robust system for the costing of the election promises of all political parties under the aegis of the IFAC.’

“So hopefully they will be happy enough to support this Bill to ensure opposition parties are treated the same as the Government,” Deputy Heydon said.

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