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Government's four-year target raised to €15bn

The government says it is “neither credible nor realistic” to delay the budget cuts and tax increases.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that it will need to find €15bn over the next four years in order to meet the economic targets agreed with the European Union, RTÉ reports.

Ireland has agreed to reduce its deficit 3% of economic output by 2014.

Brian Lenihan has said that “significant front loading will be required” to achieve the target.

The new €15bn target is double that of the government’s previous “worst case scenario” figure.

The main reasons for the significant increase were lower economic growth prospects at home and abroad and the higher cost of paying interest on national debt, according to the statement.

The government has said that the details of the spending cuts and tax hikes needed to meet the 2014 target will be outlined in the proposed four-year plan, expected to be published next month.

In the statement released, the government said that people’s living standards would be significantly impacted by the upcoming budget, however it said that it was “neither credible nor realistic” to delay these measures, adding:

To do so would further undermine confidence in our ability to meet our obligations and responsibilities and delay a return to sustainable growth and full employment in our economy.

The Cabinet held a day-long session to discuss the Budget and the four-year economic plan yesterday.

In addition to increased taxes, there will also be spending cuts in health, social welfare and education, the government has confirmed.

Meanwhile, Davy Stockbrokers has lowered its forecasts for the economy this year and next year – citing the upcoming budget cuts as reasons for the expected fall in consumer spending, RTÉ reports.

It expects gross domestic product to rise by just 0.3 per cent this year, compared with its previous forecast of 0.8 per cent growth.

Gross national product is also expected to fall by 1.5 per cent, compared with its previous forecast of a 1.2 per cent fall.

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