BUDGET 2016, AN OPPORTUNITY TO CLOSE INEQUALITY GAPS IN IRISH SOCIETY – BROUGHAN

Deputy Broughan submitted a number of Budget 2016 priority recommendations to Ministers Noonan and Howlin and hopes that they take this opportunity, their final budget in Government, to close the inequality gaps in Irish society (which are becoming more evident as growth and concentrations of wealth return to the dysfunctional pre-crash levels). Deputy Broughan highlighted housing, health (including disability), education, childcare and child protection, and social protection as areas to immediately be addressed.

Deputy Broughan expressed that, on the capital side in 2016, at least €1 billion should be spent on public housing directed by a reformed NAMA (as the public interest developer) or by an extended National Housing Executive. Likewise, the Health capital envelope for 2016 should be increased and include planning for projects like a new A&E Department at Beaumont Hospital and similar facilities at hard pressed emergency departments like University Hospital Galway. Deputy Broughan, like many other Deputies, received a high number of pre-budget submissions from various interest groups and focussed on those areas affecting the most vulnerable in Irish society. Clearly the Health and Disability sectors need restoration in current funding of at least €1.5 billion in 2016.

Deputy Broughan also strongly criticised the government’s announcements for public transport and said that at least another €1 billion needs to be deployed to this area from 2016 to 2019. Deputy Broughan suggests that the Metro North project could and should start construction in 2018 with a completion date of 2021. The 2026 completion date makes the government a total laughing stock.

In order to balance the books, Deputy Broughan put forward a number of wealth taxes on corporations and citizens with the highest incomes, including, for example, a 48% income tax on salaries of €100,000 plus, a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), and a Solidarity and Reparations Tax on Financial Institutions (together yielding up to well over €1.5 billion). HE also demanded that the effective rate of Corporation Tax should be the 12.5% rate for all companies based in Ireland (yielding perhaps at least another €500 million).

Deputy Broughan says “It will be interesting to see what new information is revealed tomorrow, given that many of the measures expected to be introduced in Budget 2016 have been discussed in the media in recent weeks. I welcome the Tánaiste’s announcement that child benefit will be partially restored by €5 per week but it remains to be seen what other steps the Government takes to make Ireland fairer and more equal. It mentions the ‘recovery’ often yet world markets remain volatile and our recovery remains fragile. Will the Government finally abandon austerity and protect our most vulnerable citizens and families or will it fritter away tax revenues to shore up Fine Gael’s big business and wealthy backers?”