No income tax increase before 2020

The Government has published its post-bailout economic plan with a pledge not to hike income tax between now and 2020, and restore employment figures to over 2.1 milliion.

It said it hopes to end austerity in 2015, but maintain "budgetary rigour" to keep the public finances on a sound footing.

The 66-page document outlines how unemployment will fall to between 5.9% and 8.1% by 2020, depending on growth in the economy.

It also says the biggest growth in employment will be in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

The Government hopes to run a budget surplus by 2018 and have reduced debt to just over 90% of GDP by 2020.

Announcing the document, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the strategy for growth is about "staying the course".

"By 2020, we aim to replace all of the 330,00 jobs that were lost in the economic crisis," he said, saying this would half the rate of unemployment.

The Taoiseach referred to the document as a "framework" and said each department would publish its own plan based on the objectives in the new year.

"We've projected two scenarios - the high growth scenario will get us to full employment by 2016," said Minister Brendan Howlin.

He said that scenario could be achieved if there is growth in the trading markets and exports.

Asked about the financial projections for the coming years, the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan, said the budget target for 2015 is currently €2bn - but that could change depending on the financial situation in the year ahead.

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