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Consensus

Fine Gael supports government’s four year economic plan

Cowen says he’s approaching the party talks with an open mind, and Bruton says Fine Gael wants a full Dáil debate before agreeing to any economic measures.

FINE GAEL’S LEO VARADKAR has said the party will support the government’s four year plan for the economy.

However, Varadkar clarified that Fine Gael would not be held to any specific details in that plan.

Speaking in Kenmare at the Dublin Economics Workshop, the TD said that they agreed on closing the budget deficit to 3% by 2014. He said that Fine Gael favours a three-to-one ratio of cuts to tax increases.

Varadkar said this would generate ”roughly €7.75bn in spending cuts over four years, and €2.5-3bn in new taxes over four years.”

Meanwhile, RTÉ reports that Fine Gael is expected to publish its proposals for reforming public services. Anticipated proposals include breaking up the HSE and reducing the number of state agencies.

Richard Bruton has already said redundancies would be sought and that departments will have to perform.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, Bruton said the party wanted a full debate in the Dáil before agreeing any Budget proposals.

Minister Eamon Ryan, speaking on the same programme, said that the Department of Finance would brief the Fine Gael and Labour parties this week. He hoped that after their briefing, senior officials from each party could meet with the government and hold open discussions on the economy.

Regarding the discussions, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that he would approach the intra-party talks in good faith.

He said that agreeing general economic targets was not the same as agreeing on specific measures, but that the discussions were good for Ireland’s image internationally:

It would substantially help Ireland’s position if we were to show the international community that there is a unity of purpose to go from words to actions.

He also warned that for Ireland to get is borrowing costs down, “significant levels of additional budgetary correction” would be required beyond those announced in Budget 2012.

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