Budget 2010: Stabilising the Public Finances?

Ok, so as with some previous big events such as the Snip Report, it may be best to partition the discussion of the budget into a set of separate threads. I’ll put up a few topics, offering a few of my opinions as I go along.

Let’s start with a big question. Irrespective of one’s opinion of how the adjustments have been achieved, has this set of budgetary measures stopped the rot in the public finances? Will it succeed in stabilising the public finances? My guess is that it will and that, if passed by the Dail (I’m assuming it will) this set of measures will prove to be a key step on the road to fiscal stability. In particular, I would guess that participants in international financial markets will be impressed by the package and that this will help a lot in distinguishing Ireland from Greece, which could prove to be an important issue in the coming months.

The other attitude to this package is what, I suppose, one could term the ICTU approach. This would emphasise that the cuts are likely to further depress the economy and keep us in a downward recessionary spiral. On this point, it’s worth noting that the budget figures concede that the €4 billion in cuts will have a negative effect on tax revenue: Table 8 of the Stability Program Update concedes that the budget day expenditure adjustments of €3.8 billion will reduce tax revenues by €897 million, so the net reduction in the deficit relative to the baseline laid out in the White Paper on Saturday is around €3 billion.

Budget 2010

The budget materials are now available here.

Labour Budget Submission

The Labour Submission is here

Key points:

700 million jobs fund for employment subsidies and placement schemes
1.3 billion reduction in pay budget
1.3 billion reduction in capital spending through lower tender prices
900 million reduction in non-pay spending (list given at end of document)
Reinstate Christmas Social Welfare Payment (240 million)

Third rate of income tax (48 per cent kicking in at 100k for single and 200k for couple)
Abolition of a number of tax expenditures
Carbon Tax

Fiscal Update

The February exchequer returns are available here; the statement also includes the announcement that further fiscal stabilisation measures will be announced later this month.

See also the Irish Times report.