Taoiseach: Budget 'going to be tough'
Next month’s Budget will be tough even if the much-disputed adjustment is less than the planned €3.1bn, Taoiseach Enda Kenny says.
As the second day of the Fine Gael parliamentary party think-in got under way, Mr Kenny also confirmed he would reshuffle the Cabinet between now and the next general election.
“This Government running its full term, we would have three more budgets and this one is going to be tough anyway, no matter what we do,” Mr Kenny said.
“If it’s a difference between €3.1 billion or €2.9 billion or €2.8 billion, the fact of the matter is it’s never easy when you get to the last sections of what it is you have to do.”
The Taoiseach insisted he would remain in his position until the end of his term in 2016, as he had been given a mandate by the people to sort out the country’s economy.
Mr Kenny said he would call a special Cabinet meeting to thrash out details of October's budget when the Government gets hold of official data on the national accounts.
He insisted spending cuts and tax hikes for 2014 would be the last of the harsh austerity measures so far imposed during the lifetime of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition.
“This is the last of the really tough ones,” he told RTE Radio.
“It will be tough no matter what we do, but we will try to do it as fair as we can.”
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has repeatedly called for an easier-than-planned budget, saying there was no reason to do more than necessary.
Ireland hopes to reduce its deficit to 5.1% of GDP in 2014, and to get it down further to 3% by 2015.
The Labour leader has insisted Ireland can meet that target without a €3.1bn adjustment, but Fine Gael is yet to be drawn on a figure.
Speaking at the Fine Gael think-in in Co Laois yesterday, Finance Minister Michael Noonan warned now is not the time for “slacking”.
He said the Government’s priority should be exiting the bailout programme at the end of the year, and doing so with a “primary surplus” that would give the money markets confidence in Ireland’s recovery.
Meanwhile, Mr Kenny would not be drawn on what kind of Cabinet reshuffle he was planning, but insisted it would happen.
“It’s like the All-Ireland finals these days, when the man appears on the sideline with a placard, it’s time for his replacement,” he said.
“It’s a matter we will consider in due course.”
The Taoiseach also confirmed the Government would consider details of a planned banking inquiry within “the next couple of weeks”.
But he said he wanted to make sure it would have no impact on court cases regarding bankers that were involved in some dealings in the run-up to Ireland’s financial collapse.
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