Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said he supports bringing Budget 2023 forward to late September “if it’s manageable to do that”.
r Coveney said this is a decision for the Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath and the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.
“If we can bring it forward by a few weeks, I think that would be welcome, but I think most importantly we’ve got to get this budget right and we’re trying to balance an awful lot of different interests this year,” he said.
Mr Coveney said the Government’s “top priority” is to respond to the cost-of-living pressures that families are facing.
He said this will include a combination of one-off payments and long-term changes. He added that the Government is also considering introducing further energy credit payments.
However, he said it’s “important not to raise expectations too high” as the Government cannot “reverse” inflation with one budget.
“We haven’t experienced close on 10pc inflation for many, many decades in Ireland so people are struggling to pay their bills, fill their car with petrol and diesel and many people who are on fixed incomes are really feeling the pressure,” he told RTÉ’s This Week programme.
“We have already responded to that but clearly there’s a lot more to do and so the Budget that will be designed over the next number of weeks and months is really going to focus on trying to ease the pressure on people to respond while at the same time protecting the economy.
“It’ll be a combination of one-off payments because we can afford to do it and also more permanent changes that we ensure we can afford next year and the year after to help people to deal with the cost-of-living, by trying to reduce the cost-of-living where the State can make interventions in areas like childcare, taxation on petrol and diesel, GP care and other healthcare.
“By introducing potentially further energy credits and so on but then also by increasing people’s take-home pay, putting money in their pockets.
“That huge percentage of our population that are middle income earners, ensuring that if and when they get pay rises, that they’re not losing more than half of that money in taxation to the State.”
The summer economic statement is due to be published tomorrow and there will be a Cabinet meeting in the afternoon to finalise details.
Mr Coveney said Fine Gael’s aim is to “put money back into people’s pockets”.
He said: “But we’ve got to do it in a way that’s responsible to make sure that we’re not spending money that the State doesn’t have or can’t afford to borrow.”
Mr Coveney said people should receive supports this calendar year in the form of budgetary measures.
“One of the things that’s unusual about this year is that we have a very high tax take in certain sectors that may not be an annual trend but certainly this year it allows us to make once off payments to respond to what we hope will be a once off dramatic increase in the cost of living,” he said.
“So, that will allow us to spend in a way that we normally wouldn’t at the back end of the year in terms of once off payments.
“The kind of things that we’ve already started doing in terms of looking at an energy credit that affectively reduces the cost of household electricity bills. Potentially looking at a social welfare bonus payment, an extra week’s payment in the autumn.”
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