Four Year Plan Still A 'Failed Policy'

The Irish Government's highly controversial Four Year Plan has been met with hostility by the State's leading unions, who claim the plan is no more than the continuation of "failed policies".

SIPTU General President, Jack O'Connor, said his initial response to the Government's proposed National Recovery Plan, announced yesterday, is that it is an "intensification of the failed economic policies of the past two years".

Yesterday's 140-page plan details the Government's plans to make €15 billion of savings by 2014. It revealed cuts of almost €3 billion to welfare, a slashing of the minimum wage by €1 per hour and the loss of 25,000 public sector jobs.

The document contains a litany of highly controversial measures, including new levies on property, a hike in the basic rate of income tax and VAT as well as a 30% rise in university registration fees.

Mr O'Conner claimed that the most glaring deficiency was the absence of any measure for public investment and an "unsubstantiated" expectation of dramatic growth on the private sector.

"Job creation and growth are the keys to recovery and these cannot be achieved without investment.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions described the proposals as "savage and regressive", with the union's spokesman claiming the proposed cuts would simply dampen down consumer demand, "which makes up 70 percent of our economy", further.

Congress General Secretary David Begg said: "The economy is already very fragile and some €14 billion has already been extracted. Taking out another €15 billion will likely push us over the edge. The projections for growth contained in this plan are a fiction and bordering on the delusional."

However, the leading employers' group, IBEC has welcomed the plan, saying it "recognised the importance of a growth strategy for the Irish economy".

IBEC Director General Danny McCoy said:"The business community will take encouragement from the fact that the Government has published the outline of a growth strategy for the economy. The role of Government is to create the conditions for growth; it is now up to Irish enterprise to deliver.

"Ireland's enterprise sector accounts for four-fifths of the economy and it is the enterprise sector that will create employment and drive recovery.

The focus must remain on improving competitiveness and creating jobs."

The employer's interest group also welcomed that most of the adjustment would be through reductions in expenditure, rather than increasing tax, as this is "less damaging to growth".


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