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Snippet Contents:

People have had enough, yet the Minister stills tries to throw mud in their eyes about the so-called progressivity of his budget. How can he stand over a situation where somebody on €17,000 - a miserable, poverty wage - gets €173 back in this budget, which will be more than wiped out by the water charges, but somebody on €120,000 gets €687 back? How can the Minister justify that for people who cannot pay their bills and are on their knees? They are being made homeless because they cannot pay the rent or feed their children.
I have pointed out to the Minister that we are at the bottom of the OECD league table for child poverty. It is extraordinary and it is not just to do with the recession or the adjustment. Even in the teeth of the recession, other OECD countries have seen an improvement in child poverty. Notwithstanding all the economic difficulties, their governments said: "We're not going to let children fall into poverty. It's just not acceptable. It's not fair." Child poverty gets worse in Ireland, however, because this Government does not care, is not listening or does not know. I do not understand what it is, but that is a fact. They have left children to suffer the consequences of an economic crash in their priorities for dealing with it.
There are alternatives. The Minister always says that we do not put forward alternatives, although we do so again and again. In our alternative budget, for example, we proposed that if one increased tax on people earning in excess of €100,000 and created new tax bands for those on very high earnings, i.e. over €140,000, over €180,000 and over €250,000, a few extra percentage points would raise €922 million, according to the Department of Finance. That figure was contained in a parliamentary reply from the Minister's Department. That sum would allow him to do away with the USC for everybody under the average industrial wage and slash it for people earning between €30,000 and €60,000. It would genuinely shift the tax burden onto those who can afford it, rather than continuing to cripple those who simply cannot pay any more.
The Minister resists with incredible determination the tiniest extra tax imposition on the financial services sector. A financial transaction tax would impose 0.1% on the several trillion euro in financial trading that goes on in the IFSC. According to the EU Commission it would raise €500 million a year, more than the Minister hopes to raise from struggling low and middle-income families. Which is fairer - levying 0.1% on financial speculators who would not even feel it, or battering low and middle income families who cannot even pay their bills with hundreds of extra euro that they simply cannot afford? How can the Minister say the latter is fair? It is obviously unfair. The financial speculators who caused the crisis would not even feel 0.1%, but other people will be driven further into poverty. More children will be driven into poverty and more people will lose their homes because they cannot afford to pay their rent. How can the Minister say that he cannot do anything about that?
We have also made proposals concerning corporation tax. Figures from the Revenue Commissioners show that before deductions and charges, the corporate sector made €61.5 billion in profits but it only pays €4.17 billion in tax. That is an effective rate of 6.5%. If the Minister put that up to 12.5%, which is the nominal rate, as a minimal effective rate he would raise €4 billion. Would that not go a long way to fixing the water infrastructure that the Minister cares so much about?
Why cannot some of NAMA's €4 billion in cash reserves go into water infrastructure? Some of it could also go into building housing for the homeless and the 90,000 people on the housing waiting list. Why can the Minister not do those things? It is because the Government repeatedly defends, with incredible tenacity, the wealth of the richest people in the country and the enormous profits of corporations. It unloads the cost of an economic crisis again and again on the backs of the poor, struggling, working people of this country who simply cannot take any more. If the Minister wants to avoid the revolution, he should listen.