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Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe)

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Snippet Contents:

As the Minister for Finance said yesterday, the previous few budgets have been hard, but they have made it possible for Ireland to exit the bailout programme, move the economy and society into a real recovery and to get our country to a point where we are reducing the amount of debt and the need for us to borrow year after year.
The overwhelming priority of this year’s budget, which is ambitious but is also sensible, is to sustain the recovery and keep things going in such a way that more communities and people across the country can participate in it and benefit from it. That is the reason for the introduction of measures such as the reduction in the universal social charge, investment in important public services such as the employment of more nurses and doctors and more staff in classrooms. One important measure in particular that was taken yesterday was to provide further support for one of the backbones of the economy, namely, the self employed. All of the measures are sensible, affordable and will sustain the recovery that is under way and give more people the ability and opportunity to benefit from it.
Just as was the case with the recent capital plan published by my Department, the budget contained many measures people supported but there were many more things absent from it that people wanted. The Government was not in a position to meet all expectations. The reason for that is we can only spend the money we have at the moment or the money we sensibly expect to have in the future. We cannot spend money that we do not or will not have. If we do so, we will end up in the kind of difficulty we are all working to get away from. It is clear that we can only spend in line with our capacity to pay for the spending. I am still conscious that while our borrowing requirements are reducing, we are still borrowing. That is the reason the Government's target to balance our books by 2018 is such an important objective.
My Department seeks to make a further contribution to the positive change under way in the country. The budget for 2016 will allow for a total expenditure by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport of €1.74 billion. That is an increase of 8%, or €125 million on 2015. It marks the first year the allocation for capital spending for my Department has exceeded €1 billion. That is important progress as it allows us to make more of a contribution to the maintenance of existing roads and railways while beginning work on the kind of projects we know are vital to sustain future recovery.