TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has refused to comment on a suggestion by Social Protection Minister Joan Burton that PRSI could be increased in December’s Budget.
The Taoiseach said he would not answer questions about what the government is planning for the upcoming Budget beyond a plan to see the deficit reduced to 7.5 per cent.
“I have absolutely no intention of getting dragged into your little game here,” he told Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who raised the issue in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon.
I have no intention of speculating on comment arising from the matters that you raise. These are matters for the government to decide as a government and as a cabinet, and I would remind everybody that that’s in the people’s interest, that when the decisions are made by government in respect of the Budget that there should be then open and public debate. Beyond that I don’t want to go into it.
“Regretfully it’s not that i can’t answer your question, I have no intention of answering it,” he told Martin.
Martin had asked the Taoiseach whether he considered an increase in PRSI to be the same as an increase in income tax, as an anonymous Fine Gael minister was quoted as saying in today’s Irish Times.
In a speech at the weekend Minister Burton said that the current level of PRSI being paid by employees and employers exceeds the benefits that are being paid out at the moment.
“It is clear to me that something has to give,” Minister Burton said. “We can either make a decision as a country to reduce the level of benefits that we wish people to have or else we can make a decision to properly fund that benefits both now and in to the future”.
Enda Kenny speaking during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon (Screengrab via Oireachtas website)