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'There's no way USC can be abolished overnight'

The suggestion of more taxes to offset any further reduction in the charge hasn’t been ruled out.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE TÁNAISTE has said any attempts to reform the universal social charge (USC) will be carried out as part of ‘broader changes’, and hasn’t ruled out introducing other taxes to offset the loss in revenue.

“No one could say, and I want to be clear on this, that they could abolish the USC, or reduce it absolutely, overnight,” Joan Burton said.

She said it can reduced, but only in stages as part of other initiatives to get more people back to work, and along with further growth and expansion.

“It’s going to be a mixture of different things,” she told RTÉ Radio 1′s This Week programme.

Coffers

The Tánaiste stressed that the charge has been an important source of income for the Government’s coffers, raising a total of €4 billion and allowing more investment to take place in the last Budget.

She noted that when she met with Taoiseach Enda Kenny after becoming Labour leader, she “put down a marker” that USC should be reformed – “I’m delighted that we’ve begun that process”.

In the wide-ranging discussion as part of This Week’s series of interviews with party leaders, the Tánaiste also said that reform of the Government’s Economic Management Council (EMC) has taken place in recent months.

image00 The Tánaiste speaking to the programme. Source: RTÉ News Now

Burton had previously criticised this group – consisting of the Taoiseach, Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure, and the Tánaiste in her role as Social Protection – as being too ‘secretive’.

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“The style has changed,” she said, explaining that, where appropriate, the Ministers with responsibility for big-budget areas like health and education are brought into discussions.

The Tánaiste was also pressed on some discrepancies in official Government figures, with presenter Colm Ó Mongain noting that in one announcement Enda Kenny said that 330,000 jobs were lost during the recession, but in another announcement this figure had decreased to 250,000.

Burton said ‘you’ll have to ask the statistical people about that one’.

Originally published 2.30pm

Read: There’s MORE good news for Enda and Joan in the latest opinion poll >

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