The lead editorial in today’s Sunday Times (not on the web) states
Many in Fine Gael believe it is almost impossible to judiciously — and fairly — cut €2.2 billion from spending if 70% of the total, in the shape of public-sector pay, is protected from further reduction.
Now I know that the Irish government is pretty hopeless at presenting its fiscal accounts but it’s really not too hard to find out the true figures on the shares of expenditure taken up by pay and other elements.
Go to page 49 of this document which we have to send to Brussels on a regular basis and which uses the perfectly sensible approach of reporting all of the government’s spending and revenue, rather than specific sub-components picked out according to some unintelligible criteria. The shares of public expenditure for major categories this year are as follows:
Pay and pensions = 25.5%
Social payments = 37.8%
Intermediate consumption = 11.4%
Interest payments = 8.4%
Capital formation = 6.4%
Other (including subsidies) = 10.5%
So not 70%. Closer to one-third of that figure. And, as I’ve dicussed before, when income taxes paid by public sector workers are factored in, the net cost is significantly less.
I have stated repeatedly that I think further cuts in public sector pay rates are required. However, it is hard to see how any reasonable debate on this issue can be had when so many of our media outlets hopelessly misrepresent the basic facts at hand.