19 September 2002 Edition

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McCreevy plans tax hikes and more cuts


More cuts, tax and price rises that will affect the weakest in Irish society. Yes, it's another week in the "A lot more to do" coalition land.

The Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat coalition have agreed ¤36 million in education spending cuts that will affect the poorest and most marginalised in society. Initiatives to cut school drop out rates and helping deprived school leavers get to third level have been cut. ¤3.8 million is being cut from funding for adult education courses also.

The cuts came just days before a study of second level students showed that those from fee paying schools were most likely to progress to UCD or Trinity.

Bord Gáis is seeking to raise gas prices by 18% to pay for the new gas pipeline to the west and the new British Irish interconnector. The price rises show the real meaning of public private partnerships. The public pays while the private sector profits from use and ownership of the pipeline.

Households were only absorbing the impact of the new round of cuts and price hikes when Sunday newspapers leaked details of plans to tax child benefit. Finance minister Charlie McCreevy is also considering freezing PAYE allowances and bands that will leave more taxable income for the Revenue Commissioners.

One thing not being considered by McCreevy is the wholesale reform needed of the tax system, with particular emphasis on the growing group of super-rich who don't pay tax as PAYE workers know it because they can avail of an ever growing number of tax relief and avoidance schemes.

For now, it's the easy options of increasing PAYE workers' taxes. Finally, McCreevy has warned that there will be even more cutbacks next year. Maybe we could rerun the election in the same week as we rerun Nice?

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1