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Dublin: 11 °C Wednesday 16 April, 2014

We don’t intend to lose the discipline that’s been put in the system by the Troika – Taoiseach

Launching a new economic strategy today, the Government says they want unemployment down to 10 per cent by 2016 and under 6 per cent by 2020.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT WANTS to maintain the budgetary discipline put in place by the Troika according to a new strategy laid out today.

Launching the Medium Term Economic Strategy in Leinster House today, Taoiseach Enda Kennny said that they do not intend to “go back” to the strategies of the past.

“What we do want to do is maintain the discipline we’ve shown because it is clearly achieving dividends in terms of attracting jobs and growth… We don’t intend to lose the discipline that’s been put in the system by the Troika being here,” he added.

The plan pledges that under the “high growth” scenario being chased by the Government, unemployment will be down to 10 per cent by 2016 and under 6 per cent by 2020.

Kenny says that this will be achieved by “replacing all of the 330,000 jobs lost during the crisis”. In essence halving unemployment, Kenny said.

Budgets

The document outlines that the budgetary adjustments required to bring the Government deficit in line will not be required after 2015 because growth rates will do enough to keep the target on track.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan says that the planned deficit reduction in Budget 2015 is targeted at €2 billion between tax and expenditure.

He said, however, that current estimates show that it is likely to be less than that. “The material around is that the target will be less than that by the end of the year,” he said.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore warned that there is “no question of suddenly being able to loosen the purse strings” but did sound an encouraging note for people who have seen their income fall:

“People should be expected to believe that those who have made sacrifices will be able to receive some payback,” he said.

Gilmore also echoed the plan to reduce unemployment to under 6 per cent by 2020, something he described as “full employment”.

“This time we will be talking about real and sustainable jobs. Export-led jobs, not temporary bubble-led jobs, ” he added.

image

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny at today’s announcement.  (Pic: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)

Jobs

Noonan was questioned on the target of of reducing employment to 6 per cent by 2020, a target described during the briefing by one journalist as ‘conservative’.

“When jobs are created there are various cohorts of people available for them..You cant just subtract your job creation from the Live Register, ” he responded.

Noonan referenced those already in employment, the fact that Ireland is again becoming an increasingly attractive destination for European immigrants as well the possible return of recent emigrants for his caution.

“Those who went away temporarily or those who were forced out because of lack of jobs,” he said.

Reaction

Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil have both criticised the plan for being “disappointing”.

Fianna Fail spokesperson Michael McGrath TD said that the Government were using growth figures to “essentially take a gamble” that economic growth will deliver targets.

“It’s a rehashing of existing departmental policies,” he told reports outside Leinster House.

If you are going to go to the trouble and indeed the expense of putting together a new economic strategy than at least it should be meaningful. When you look at issues such as mortgage arrears, personal indebtedness, issues of credit to the economy, there really is little or nothing is this document.

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty TD also criticised the plan for being short on detail and reliant on growth projections that haven’t been reached before:

This is the seventh time that the government have produced a strategy with growth figures for the Irish economy. On the previous six times they have missed all of their targets and there’s nothing in this document that shows that this will be anything different.

“Also the fact that they aren’t changing strategy in relation to stepping up the anti, looking for retroactive recapitalisation of the money the Irish people have pumped into the banks or using the money at their disposal to inject into the economy to get people back to work.”

Read: Government to publish economic strategy today >

Video: Here’s what Enda Kenny had to say in his State of the Nation address >
Column: We recover part of our sovereignty, but banks still losing their senses – Damien Kiberd >

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