Government Statement: €15 billion target

The government statement reads:

The Government has today decided that an overall adjustment of €15 billion over the next four years is warranted in order to achieve the target deficit of 3% of GDP by 2014. The key reasons for the significant increase from the figure announced in Budget 2010 are lower growth prospects both at home and abroad and higher debt interest costs.

The purpose of the Four Year Plan for Budgets and Economic Growth is to chart a credible way forward for this country. The size of the adjustment for 2011 and the distribution over the remaining years will be announced in the Four Year Plan. The Plan will contain targets for growth and strategies for the achievement of those targets.

The Government realises that the expenditure adjustments and revenue raising measures that must now be introduced will have an impact on the living standards of citizens. But it is neither credible nor realistic to delay these measures. To do so would further undermine confidence in our ability to meet our obligations and responsibilities and delay a return to sustainable growth and full employment in our economy.

Our obligations are clear. We must demonstrate that we are bringing sustainability to our public finances. We must stabilise our debt to GDP ratio over the period of the Plan. And we must set out our strategy for returning our economy to growth.

BBC Radio 4 The World Tonight: Lessons from Ireland for the UK

The World Tonight programme is running a series on fiscal adjustment in Europe, with the attendant lessons for the UK. Last night’s programme includes a report from Ireland plus an interview with Kevin Daly (minutes 07:30 to 17:00); tonight’s programme will report from Greece.

Civil Service Pay Cuts Not the Answer

Dave Thomas (general secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants) argues that pay cuts for civil servants are ‘not the answer’ :  the article is here.

Without having the time today to fully discuss this contribution, I will note the following sentence:

“First and foremost, public servants did not cause the economic crisis.”

This type of argument has been used by many interest groups to argue against expenditure cuts of various forms. However, it is also the case that ‘group X did not inflate the property bubble’ and the problem is that the windfall tax revenues during the bubble period allowed a rapid increase in public sector pay and many expenditure lines.  The goal now is to restructure the economy and the public finances in order to undo the the adverse impact of the whole bubble-crisis episode and the relevant benchmark is not the level of earnings or public expenditure at the peak of the bubble but the appropriate levels of earnings and spending in order to ensure that Ireland can grow along a sustainable, non-bubble path.