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Howlin: We want to ensure a 'basic threshold of decency' in Budget 2014

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has insisted today that the parameters of the budget adjustment in October have not yet been set.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

PUBLIC EXPENDITURE AND Reform Minister Brendan Howlin has said that the parameters of the Budget have not been fixed and that any reported cuts are “entirely and completely speculative”.

Howlin was speaking prior to attending the launch of an exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the Dublin Lockout when he insisted that no “budgetary parameters” have yet been set.

Recent debate has centred on whether the government will carry out the planned €3.1 billion in cuts and tax rises or ease up on austerity in light of the promissory note deal as some Labour backbenchers are agitating for.

Howlin told the media that he did want to achieve a budget that is “as social progressive as we can make it”.

“Taking money out of any of the expenditure lines is difficult, it has been difficult for people all along. But we want to ensure that, as our President used to describe, a basic threshold of decency is maintained in all public expenditure,” Howlin said.

He declined to rule in or out the possibility that the old-age pension will be cut as has been reported recently, but said the coalition is working within the parameters of the programme for government.

Howlin said: “I can say that Michael Noonan and myself have not fixed the budgetary parameters. We’ve brought no proposals for the parameters of the budget to government yet and I have embarked on no bilateral discussions with any line minister yet.

“So anything that you’ve read about, as I have, in recent times, is entirely and completely speculative.”

The Labour TD also acknowledged that “several kites were certainly flown” in recent weeks referring to budget speculation in the media.

Read: TD accused of ‘recycling’ two-year-old list of education cuts

Column: Pre-Budget politics – lies, damned lies and a gullible public

More: Sinn Féin wants an ‘easier budget’ with adjustment of less than €3.1 billion

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Hugh O'Connell

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