Budget protects most vulnerable - Rabbitte

6 December 2012

Statement by Pat Rabbitte TD
Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources

Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, said that the budget was indeed difficult, but that the most vulnerable is society were being protected.

"This is a difficult budget. I do not recall anyone on the Government benches at any stage saying other than it would be a difficult budget. The challenge confronting the Government was taking €3.5 billion out of the economy, an action with which Fianna Fáil agrees. It ought to agree with it because it negotiated it when it handed over control and direction of economic affairs outside of the country.

"The Government was confronted with doing this in a balanced way which protects the most vulnerable while stimulating greater employment growth in the economy. Achievements have been made in protecting core social welfare rates, protecting the pupil-teacher ratio to ensure there will be more teachers in the classroom because of demographics protecting the tax rates for those going to work, creating 10,000 jobs in successful schemes such as Tús and JobBridge, restoring home help, defending people with disabilities and raising more than €500 million from those who are better off.

"We addressed capping relief on pensions at €60,000 per annum and top-slicing enormous severance packages. The measures that have levied more than €500 million from the better-off in our society are the main contributors to these overall savings.

"We are confronted with the mess Fianna Fáil left. That is what we must deal with. I am happy to say that, thanks to the efforts of the Irish people, 85% of the heavy lifting is behind us and that is considerable credit to the people who bore the cost of the mess Fianna Fáil inflicted on the Irish people.

"With regard to PRSI, for the first time in the history of the State, following the decision to lift the ceiling so that PRSI is attachable to all income, in future, PRSI will be attachable to all unearned income. If income is from shares, dividends, rental properties or professional fees, it will be now necessary to pay PRSI.

"Overall, the PRSI fund is in deep trouble and it is essential to maintain benefits. The very poorest and most modest paid in our society receive most of the benefits. Whether one is earning €120,000 or €20,000, one gets the same pension. For the first time, those with unearned income are now responsible for PRSI. It is the utmost of humbug for Fianna Fáil, having brought the country to the verge of ruin, to take these positions. It would appear the leopard does not change its spots."

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