Noonan: Public will be 'astounded' by Budget's 'good news'
The nation will be "astounded by all the good news in the Budget" Finance Minister Michael Noonan has claimed.
Speaking at the Fine Gael national conference in Limerick Mr Noonan said that the Budget was nearly complete apart from "bits and bobs, some bells and whistles.”
"I look forward to you turning on your televisions on Tuesday and you'll be astounded at all the good news I'll be announcing," Mr Noonan told delegates.
The Minister said once the Budget was out of the way he would met with the Troika to plan the country's exit strategy from the bail-out at the end of the year.
Looking forward to Ireland breaking free of the constraints of the Troika imposed bail-out by Christmas, Mr Noonan said the focus was no on restoring economic sovereignty.
"When the Budget is concluded I plan to have consultation our exit strategy with the IMF, the European Commission and European Central Bank. Having heard their views I will advise the Government on the best course of action," he told the conference.
However, the finance minister also warned he the Government has needed to make "difficult" decisions in order to achieve the bail-out terms.
Mr Noonan again hinted that the VAT reduction on the tourism sector may be maintained in some form as he praised the initiative as proof the Government was willing to test new ideas.
"This willingness to try bold initiatives has led to the significant improvement in the tourism sector through the highly successful Jobs Initiative and its temporary reductions in VAT and employer PRSI. We will continue to pursue any new ideas to reinvigorate other sectors of the economy that require assistance," Mr Noonan said.
Mr Noonan insisted the €2.5bn package of cuts and tax hikes to be announced was "responsible" as it would still leave Ireland on course to bring down its deficit faster than anticipated.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny echoed the Minster's upbeat tone saying there would be "some good news in the Budget”.
Mr Kenny denied that his call or greater effort in welfare reform was a criticism of Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, insisting that the two co-operate “very strongly".
Up to 2,000 delegates are expected in the conference venue which is surrounded by a heavy security presence as major demonstrations have been threatened.
Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald defended the Government's record on protecting vulnerable youngsters, claiming that her department had been restructured to implement "new national models" and "address local and regional inconsistencies”.
Despite praising the benefits of a second free pre-school year, the Minister could not give a timetable for when it would be introduced.
The conference will climax tonight when Taoiseach Enda Kenny gives the key note speech.
Mr Kenny's opening remarks to the conference made no reference to the Government's humiliating rebuff from the electorate over its plans to abolish the Seanad
— Additional reporting by Shaun Connolly, Political Correspondent, Irish Examiner.
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