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Minister Coveney arriving for a recent meeting of EU Defense Ministers in Prague Petr David Josek/PA Images
budget 2023

Coveney says government is 'ruling nothing out' in response to cost-of-living crisis

The Foreign Affairs Minister warned “this isn’t a crisis that is going to go away quickly”.

THE GOVERNMENT IS “ruling nothing out” as it considers what measures Budget 2023 should include to address the cost-of-living crisis, Simon Coveney said.

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week programme, the Foreign Affairs Minister said: “These are unprecedented times and the financial response from the government will be unprecedented.”

Budget 2023 will be delivered in just over two weeks’ time and Coveney said the focus “will very much be around helping households, families and businesses with the dramatic increases in the cost of living”.

Coveney said there will be “effectively two elements to this budget”, the first will include €7 billion of “increased expenditure and reduction in taxation for 2023″.

The second element will be “about the rest of 2022″ and Coveney said it will allow the government to “spend the significant surplus that the economy has created to ensure that we respond to the pressures that so many people are facing”.

However, the Foreign Affairs Minister warned that “this isn’t a crisis that is going to go away quickly” and as a result, not all of the €6 billion surplus will be spent on costs of living pressures for the rest of the year as there needs to be “some resources and reserves should this crisis continue into next year”.

When asked about the possibility of introducing energy caps, Coveney replied: “We are ruling nothing out and we will make a significant impact in terms of the pressure the families are feeling by spending a lot of money.”

Sinn Féin proposal

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Finance, Deputy Pearse Doherty, has announced that the party will bring forward a motion in the Dáil next week to cut energy costs.

“Our plan would cut electricity bills to the prices they were in 2021,” Doherty said in a statement today.

“This would drastically lower bills and ensure that they remain affordable for workers and families on ordinary incomes.

“Our plan also outlines the need for a windfall tax, so that businesses that are making obscene profits from this crisis are forced to give some of this back into families’ pockets.”

However, speaking on This Week, Coveney accused “many in the opposition” of seeking to “spend everything that’s possible now in an effort to be popular”.

He also claimed that Sinn Féin “will tell people what they want to hear, which is nothing new”.

The Foreign Affairs Minister added: “It is our job to make sure that the numbers add up, and that we spend a very significant amount of public money in a way that we can afford, but also in a way that responds directly to the pressures that households face.”

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty later joined This Week to respond to Coveney.

He said “it simply isn’t true” that his party would “spend everything now in an effort to be popular” and added that Sinn Féin “is planning to have a surplus at the end of this year”.

Doherty said “this should have been dealt with before the summer and families shouldn’t have been abandoned”.

The Sinn Féin plan would also introduce cash payments and a doubling of the child benefit payment “in recognition that households with children tend to spend more on energy bills”, he said.

Doherty added that this plan would cost “in the region of €4 billion” and “still leave us with a surplus of billions of euros to make sure that we can invest in other areas in the future”.

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