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not payback time

Ministers don't want to play "fast and loose" with Budget 2015

The Tánaiste said that the economic recovery needs to be cemented.

Updated 12.53pm

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON has moved to dampen hopes for a payback budget, and said that economic recovery needs to be ‘cemented’, while the Finance Minister said any tax cuts will have to be offset by tax increases.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the Minister for Social Protection said that Budget 2015 will be more comfortable that previous adjustments, but that the government is going to err on the side of caution.

“I know that on previous occasions, in particular I recall the days of Charlie McCreevy, when there’s a kinda thing of throw caution to the winds,” Burton said.

“Myself and the Taoiseach have agreed that we are going to be careful because we want to make sure the recovery takes hold, so that all of our people enjoy a return to prosperity.

We’re not going to be able to meet everyone’s pent-up expectations all with one budget.

This sentiment was echoed later by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan on Today with Sean O’Rourke, who said he wanted to build an alternative economic model to the boom-and-bust.

“I’m not going to introduce tax breaks as some kind of way of attracting public support or attracting votes,” he said.

“The rule that I have been following is that if a particular tax break will further grow the economy, well then I will consider it… but we’re not into the business of what happened in the past.”

We can’t risk the success by playing fast and loose and by making political decisions.

Burton said that any relief that is available will be targeted at low and middle-income families, but said it was too early to reveal any exact measures.

However, she said that some of the relief would be in the form of “getting more people back to work and by investing in a significant housing programme”.

She noted that the social welfare budget is ‘not under the kind of pressure that it was under’.

“As a consequence, we have more room there,” Burton said.

Bumper exchequer figures published yesterday showed the deficit at €1.3 billion ahead of plans.

It prompted Minister Noonan to give his clearest indication yet cuts in next year’s budget could be much less than previously thought. Today he said that some tax breaks may have to be offset by tax increases elsewhere.

“The success now is not an accident of nature or an act of God,” he said, putting it down to the fiscal programme followed by Government.

The Finance Minister also touched on his recovery from sarcoma, and said that recent scans have all been clear.

“The operation, by [former Olympic swimmer] Gary O’Toole, took away from muscle from my shoulder, and inhibited my somewhat. And Gary, being a great Olympic swimmer himself, prescribed swimming as the exercise instead of physiotherapy.”

“I’m the only one in Ireland swimming on prescription.”

Originally published 8.50am

Read: Budget cuts could be “significantly less” says Noonan, but don’t leap for joy just yet >

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