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Dublin: 3°C Thursday 21 January 2021

‘Extremely painful’ Budget on the way, Rabbitte warns

The energy minister says there is “no more low-hanging fruit” for the €3.6billion in savings which the government wants.

Minister Pat Rabbitte
Minister Pat Rabbitte
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

ENERGY MINISTER PAT Rabbitte has warned that December’s Budget will be “extremely painful” as the government struggles to find €3.6billion in savings on top of last year’s cuts.

He said there was “no more low-hanging fruit” for the government to take in terms of savings, and that the budget adjustment would be a huge step. However, the minister insisted that it was in Ireland’s interest to follow the IMF/EU stipulations, which he said were aiming to help the country “resuscitate itself” and return to the financial markets.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister Rabbitte also addressed speculation over a possible sell-off of State assets to balance the books. He insisted that the State had no plans to privatise the electricity and gas transmission networks held by the ESB and Bord Gais, saying that lessons had been learnt from the Eircom privatisation which has been widely criticised as responsible for Ireland’s patchy broadband service. “What happened to Eircom cannot be permitted to happen here,” he said.

He also defended the record of the Fine Gael/Labour coalition, suggesting that it had done the heavy lifting of putting into place the cuts laid out in last year’s Budget. “It’s all very well to balance the budget,” he said. “But it’s this government over the last six months that has been engaged in the painful process of implementing €6billion in cuts from the last Budget.”

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Michael Freeman

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