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Noonan: We might have some leeway if figures ahead of Budget are positive

Michael Noonan indicated there may be a Budget adjustment of less than €3.1 billion if there’s good news contained in two key sets of data, but he said the final figure had not yet been decided.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated at 11.04pm

FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL Noonan has said there may be some room to reduce the €3.1 billion euro package of taxes and spending cuts in next month’s Budget if there’s good news contained in two key sets of figures expected in the next few weeks.

But he warned that if the opposite was the case then the Government would be “right up against the three billion or so in making the adjustments”.

Speaking to RTÉ News this evening from the Fine Gael ‘think-in’ in Laois, Noonan said that no final decision could be made on what the amount would be until the CSO growth figures and the Exchequer returns for the end of September were revealed.

He repeated his assertion made to reporters earlier in the day that he was  not pursuing any ideology as he worked on Budget 2014, and said that his priority was to make sure the country achieves a modest primary surplus in the State finances in order to exit the bailout and borrow money from the markets at a reasonable rate.

“This is the last big effort. We must succeed in this to ensure we exit the bailout and are sovereign again and can run our own economic affairs,” Noonan said.

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Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin (Photocall Ireland)

Speaking at the Labour think-in in Co Meath, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said that the scale of the Budget should take shape within the coming weeks.

“Certainly next week or the week after we will have to have the overall shape and scope of the Budget decided, and then we will fill in the individual expenditure and taxation components of that.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there would be a special Cabinet meeting once the final data was in, to decide on the details of the adjustment ahead of Budget Day on 15 October.

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Tanáiste and Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said his party was “determined to to what is necessary to bring about recovery for the Irish people”.

The two Government parties are holding their respective retreats ahead of the new Dáil term this week. Various Fine Gael ministers have been pushing in recent weeks for the coalition to bring in the full €3.1 billion in order to reach the deficit target of 5.1 per cent.

However, senior Labour figures – including Education Minister Ruairí Quinn – have called for a lower figure of cuts and taxes, while Eamon Gilmore was critical of “austerity hawks” in an interview last week.

- Originally posted at 7.24pm.

Read: Budget likely to top agenda as Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fáil hold think-ins

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Daragh Brophy

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