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Snippet Contents:

I am pleased to contribute to this debate on the Supplementary Estimates, which are additional record Supplementary Estimates from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin. His Department was set up to reform public expenditure but the only reform he has achieved was to ensure no adequate budgeting at the beginning of each year. In the last fortnight of every year since taking office, he comes into the Chamber to seek an ever-increasing Supplementary Estimate to back up the flawed Estimate announced in the Budget Statement.
The Supplementary Estimates are really being introduced because of the content of the Budget Statement of 12 months ago. That statement was one of the clearest examples in five years of the total capitulation of the Labour Party to Fine Gael. The budget could have been summarised in one sentence: if one was on over €70,000, one got a tax cut and was better off. The choices made in the budget 12 months ago for 2015 meant that there were tax cuts for the high-income earners. That was done at the expense of people who needed serious support, such as the critically ill and those requiring suicide prevention measures, as recently mentioned by Deputy Derek Keating. I refer also to career guidance teachers in schools and homeless people.
We had a big debate on homelessness and the housing crisis around the time the Estimates were going through last year. The Labour Party lost that debate because there had to be a 1% income tax cut for the top earners. However, as the year progressed we were very fortunate that Ireland received a bonanza increase in corporation tax revenue from the foreign multinationals. Without it we could not have addressed some of the aforementioned matters in the last couple of months in the year. We have to thank the companies that chose to act as they did for a reason utterly unknown to the Minister for Finance or anybody else in the Government. While we have the additional revenue, the problem is that the Minister is not only increasing expenditure for this year but also for next year by the same amount as in these Supplementary Estimates. He will build on that. Although the Government has criticised previous regimes for using the mantra "If we have it we will spend it," it is using that mantra to a scale never envisaged before. It has got the extra money and, since there is an upcoming election, it is saying it will increase expenditure for 2015 and have any amount of money for 2016. It is saying it has it so it will spend it; that is the essence of what is happening. Today is just one little element of the Government's plan to spend the extra €7 billion that is coming our way. Some of this revenue arises from the increase in corporation tax revenue that we cannot explain. The other element is substantially a consequence of the programme the Government inherited and which it operated in full for three years to put the country back on its feet.