MEMBERS OF SOCIAL Justice Ireland met with representatives from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund at the Department of Finance today.
This was their second meeting and SJI told that them that two-thirds of the borrowing reduction in 2012 and beyond should be achieved by increasing taxation – but not income tax.
It argued that persisting with the approach followed in recent budgets “would further seriously damage Ireland’s poorest and most vulnerable people and undermine the social infrastructure supporting delivery of the country’s services”.
According to Dr Seán Healy, Director of Social Justice Ireland:
The approach of recent years has provided short term gain by reducing borrowing; but it has also spread the burden of adjustment very unjustly with those who can least afford to pay being targeted in a most unfair manner. This situation is unjust and must change. Following Social Justice Ireland’s proposed approach would still leave Ireland a low tax country but with a fairer tax system.
SJI said that though targets and benchmarks set out in the bailout agreement are being met by Irish people and our government, economic growth is not reaching the forecast targets, jobs are not being created on the scale required, and unemployment is not falling enough.
It said that the community and voluntary sector has seen a huge increase in demand for its services, while at the same time its funding has been reduced dramatically.
The SJI stated that the bailout agreement is dispossessing poor and vulnerable people of their meagre resources ”to re-pay those banks, financial institutions and others who gambled recklessly, invested unwisely and were paid premium interest rates to do so but lost their gamble”.
The troika were told that the Memorandum of Understanding should be amended “to ensure its conditions achieve economic growth and financial stability while securing ‘real’ protection of poor and vulnerable people”.
Seán Healy stated that
In precarious times such as these a country, a government, a society or an international institution defines itself by the cuts it makes, the people it protects, its effectiveness on economic growth/jobs, its actions on public services and the values underpinning its choices. Using this yardstick, the ECB, the IMF and the European Commission have on balance acted in the interests of the wealthy and the strong while seriously damaging those who are poor and vulnerable.
The 28-page document being handed to the troika is called Adjustment Choices: A Fairer Future is Possible.
The SJI delegation presented detailed proposals on issues such as poverty and income distribution, employment and job creation, securing finance for small and medium enterprises, unemployment and labour market activation, adult literacy and a wide range of public services.