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Taoiseach: “Everything is on the table” in December’s Budget

Enda Kenny says his government is ‘prepared to be radical’ in the Budget – and refuses to clearly rule out raising income taxes.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has confirmed that his government will publish a three-year financial plan next month – but acknowledged that “everything is on the table” as it tries to prepare another difficult annual Budget.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, the Fine Gael leader said his cabinet was committed to meeting the target set down by the EU, which required the Budget deficit to be within 8.6 per cent of Ireland’s GDP.

Kenny said his government could not yet precisely predict exactly how much it would have to cut to meet this target, saying that “some parts of the jigsaw” were not yet in place, but said the target could require spending cuts and tax hikes of between €3.6bn and €4bn.

A spending review currently being undertaken by public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin will help the government decide where it can wield the knife – but the Taoiseach said his government was prepared to consider all measures necessary to meet the target.

“Everything is on the table there,” Kenny said, asserting that drastic measures were needed given the situation Ireland finds itself in. “We’re prepared to be radical in what we’re going to consider.”

The three-year package of financial measures, to be published by Michael Noonan next month, would be discussed by the Dáil and by Oireachtas committees in order to seek all-party input before the final Budgets would be published.

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Pressed by presenter Aine Lawlor on whether the government could still ensure that income tax could be raised by the Budget, Kenny said he regarded income tax as “being a blockage” on job creation, but appeared to stop short of giving a clear declaration that tax rates remained sacrosanct.

More: Government will publish a deficit reduction plan, says Noonan >

Analysis: Front-loaded budget ‘could push economy to breaking point’ >

Read: Social welfare spending to be cut – but rates to remain >

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Gavan Reilly

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