SINN FÉIN HAS launched a new billboard campaign attacking Fine Gael’s commitment to tax cuts.
The senior government party has promised to abolish the USC if re-elected, while Labour and Fianna Fáil plan to scrap it for low- to middle-income earners.
The billboard features a broken calculator beside the slogans “Fine Gael figures don’t add up” and “More chaos in health and housing”.
The party’s finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, said this afternoon that Fine Gael figures relating to the fiscal space – the amount of money the next government will be able to spend over and above existing resources – fail to stand up to scrutiny.
The government has estimated that the fiscal space will be around €12 billion over the next five years – an assessment based on the assumption that the economy will grow at around 3% annually during this period.
Fine Gael has argued that 70% of the extra funds should go on investment in public services with 30% used for tax reductions, including the planned scrapping of the USC.
‘Throwback to the politics of Charlie McCreevy’
But Sinn Féin says that the party has already committed €4 billion of the money to implementing Budget 2016 measures, on top of the cost of funding its contingency plan (€3 billion) and USC cuts (€4 billion).
“That leaves just €1.4 billion for new investment in services, which is just over 16% of the fiscal space and a far cry from the 70% that Fine Gael has promised,” Doherty said.
He told reporters outside Government Buildings that the government could not afford to abolish the USC as well as invest in high-quality public services.
“You can’t allocate 50% to USC cuts, 25% to contingency, 70% to public spending,” he said.
Sinn Féin, Doherty said, would instead commit 100% of the net fiscal space to funding a contingency plan and public services, including housing and the health system.
He added that all parties have a responsibility to ensure the country does not “return to the boom and bust politics of the past”.
“This is a throwback to the politics of Charlie McCreevy – the idea that when you have it, you spend it,” he said.
Standing beside him, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said Fine Gael were “repeating all the promises” they made before the previous general election.
Voters “were sold a pup at the last election. They were given a whole series of promises and here we go again,” he said.