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Government ministers have Budget wishlists - but there's not enough money to go around

Ministers budget submissions come to in excess of €3 billion.

GOVERNMENT MINISTERS HAVE submitted their Budget wishlists and they haven’t held back on what they want.

Yesterday, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe brought a memo to Cabinet on the estimates.

Totting up the sums, the cost of all the ministers’ wants is in excess of €3 billion.

There’s one major problem – the government only has €1 billion for expenditure in October. The plan – formulated by Donohoe and Finance Minister Michael Noonan – is that one third of that amount will be earmarked for tax cuts and two thirds will be for spending increases.

A source close to government said there are only a “finite amount of resources” and there will have to be a “paring back of expectations” by ministers.

Another said the €3 billion ask by ministers for their respective portfolios is “not a number that is workable”.

Formal conversations are to be held next week with ministers and their departments.

The figure presented at Cabinet yesterday is believed to be a jumping off point for negotiations ahead of next month’s Budget.

It’s understood members of the Independent Alliance – all new to the top table – are coming to terms with the negotiations. It has been described as a “learning process” for some.

A source close to the party said members understand the routine, stating that it is a case of ‘if you don’t ask for everything, you won’t get anything’.

In an interview with at the weekend, the Housing Minister Simon Coveney said he believed his department should get a significant allocation.

Every minister is going to advocate for their own area. I want to follow through on the promise that housing is the number one priority and that has to be reflected in the Budget as far as I am concerned. But other ministers have their priorities too.

In the run-up to the Budget, he said there will “robust discussion around advocating for different areas and priorities”. However, he said he believed the Budget should pass through the Dáil relatively easily.

Noonan missed yesterday’s Cabinet briefing after being diagnosed with cellulitus, a skin condition.

He was available to talk to his colleagues over the phone. The 73-year-old is undergoing a course of antibiotics and is expected back at Leinster House on Monday.

Read: Enda Kenny says he doesn’t want to be President of Ireland>

Read: Ireland’s legal profession just pointed the finger firmly at insurers when it comes to spiralling motor insurance costs>

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