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Financial Resolution No. 15: General (Resumed) (Continued)

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross] While I know it is only simple interest, it is also adding 4% per annum. There is no earthly hope of these people paying this money. So, what will happen? They will have a debt and will live in these houses for as long as they live. They will be condemned and immobilised by this. It also has social consequences. It is cruel and unthinking. Regardless of what the Government spokesmen say, 4% is a very high interest rate for people who have no money and cannot pay back. It is also considerably beyond the rate of inflation. I do not know where this 4% came from, but some genius in the Department of Finance came up with the idea. It is simply a paper transaction that will never come to completion because those deferrals will be on the individual's balance sheets for the rest of their lives.

Approximately 18 months ago the Taoiseach promised that he would look into the pensions industry. That industry is staffed by people who are very rich who are making an enormous amount of money. It is full of the pension contributions of people who are very poor and much more impoverished than others. Nothing has ever happened to that investigation but I believe the industry reaps approximately €800 million a year. From all the surveys and research that has been done, I believe it would be possible to get €400 million out of it overnight. Nothing happened. Instead the Government goes back to the pensioners, makes them convert their medical cards to GP-only cards, raises the drugs payment scheme threshold, and trebles the medical card prescription charge.

What on earth is going on when the Government has to take food out of the mouths of children by reducing child benefit? I am tired of hearing people saying that the rate of child benefit is excessive and that people use it for foreign holidays. Of course that may happen but on the whole, those with three or four children need that benefit. No one has explained why people are being docked €20 for the fourth child, €18 for the third and €10 for the first two children. Massive amounts are coming out of the family budget of someone with four children. That is utterly unacceptable. Middle Ireland is being crucified by this budget.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins Budget 2013 constitutes a savage new twist to the pernicious austerity agenda relentlessly pursued so far by the Fine Gael and Labour Party coalition Government, but at huge cost to ordinary people and to society. It is all simply to rescue the European financial market system together with Irish bankers and speculators from their reckless super profit-seeking gambles in the Irish property bubble. Budget 2013 means that virtually every ordinary family will be hammered for at least €1,000 next year. The mantra from the Government that the budget is "tough, but fair" reeks of the most acute cynicism. It put intolerable new burdens and acute suffering onto low and middle-income workers, and social welfare recipients. However, because it imposed a few minor demands on very high-income earners, it supposedly makes it all right. It beats the living standards of working class people to a pulp and because it throws a few perfunctory shapes in the direction of the wealthy it is supposed to make the assault fair and justifiable. What cynicism. This is the logic of a government which lives in a bubble, which is being dictated to by a troika representing the interest, not of the people of Europe, but of European finance capitalism. It is a government whose moral compass is driven by the immorality that informs the European capitalist financial markets and driven by the influences of those who created first the massive orgy of speculation, liberalisation and deregulation on the world financial markets and then crashed the system at huge cost to poor and working class people throughout the world.

Budget 2013 represents a grotesque betrayal by the Labour Party in particular of working class people to whom it made utterly cynical false promises to protect them from what it termed "Fine Gael excess". Do Labour Party Deputies remember this advertisement, published in their name in every national newspaper during the general election campaign which stated, "Look what Fine Gael have in store for you!"

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Chairman-----

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins It portrayed six specific attacks, ranging from cuts in child benefit to VAT increases, every single one of which Labour has swallowed. Do they remember what the end of the advertisement stated?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Seán Kenny): Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny I am told the Deputy is not to display such images.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins The end of the advertisement stated, "Fine Gael: every little hurts!". Is the Labour Party suffering such delusion that it believes the savage cuts by Fine Gael hurt, but, when Labour blesses those cuts, somehow they do not? Is the Labour Party suffering from delusion that savage cuts in the living standards administered by Fine Gael might hurt badly, but when supported by the Labour Party, those cuts come with a miracle anaesthetic that working-class people miraculously will not feel the pain?

The property tax - a home tax in reality - constitutes one of the most vicious impositions of the budget, designed to gouge anything from €200 to €600 a year from the majority of low and middle-income homeowners. With water tax following, the cost will quickly become €1,000 and beyond. The administrative procedures outlined for the attempted collection of the property tax give the lie to and blow out of existence the propaganda of Government that it is, first, a broadening of the tax base and, second, a local tax. The myth that a property tax broadens the tax base is a transparent ruse to pretend that because it is called a property tax, it does not come out of incomes but from some other mysterious source. It is, therefore, allegedly not a tax on work. However, what is proposed in the budget? According to what we were told yesterday the Revenue Commissioners can instruct an employer, a pension provider or the Department of Social Protection to deduct the amount of property tax from wages. So much for the property tax not being a tax on work or on incomes.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Hear, hear.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins Hopefully we will hear no more of this ruse. Calling it a local property tax is another cynical ploy. If it is a local property tax, why is its collection centralised in the Revenue agency, which is, itself, highly centralised at national level? That of course arises from a recognition that the imposition of the household tax last year was resisted bitterly by an active boycott. To this day 50% of single-home owners have refused to register for that tax or pay it in a massive show of opposition and civil disobedience to an injustice and an immorality that was being imposed upon them as part of the bailout of bondholders and bankers.

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