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Snippet Contents:

If it looks like an election budget, if it sings like an election budget and if Leo's choir cheers it like an election budget, then it is an election budget. As I listened today, I could not help feeling a sense of déjà vu. The Minister for Finance was delivering the speech but the voice that came through to me was that of former Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy. It is as though we were back in the good old days that we had foolishly thought were banished forever. I wonder how the former Minister was feeling today as he listened to the current Minister, performing as the lead singer of a McCreevy tribute band, blasting out his golden hits, notably his "Top of the Pops" sensation "When I have it, I spend it".
Budget prudence goes out the window when there is an election in the air. Make no mistake that the echo of the crash a decade ago can be felt today. It seems the current crop of Ministers is determined to pretend it could not happen again on their watch while all around us there are unmistakable signs of future turbulence, not least being the near certainty that the days of minuscule interest rates are slowly coming to an end alongside the uncertainties of Brexit.
I wonder whether the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach ever even glance over the grim document from late 2010 when the troika arrived to impose its dire programme. The original outline budget sketched out then referred to quite vicious interest rates that could have involved many billions of euro in interest payments on the troika loans. Fortunately, the previous Government managed to secure substantial reductions in interest by recycling the expensive loans from the crash period. That enabled us to exit early from the troika's grip and to have independent capacity to raise funds at remarkably low rates due to a change in European bank policy. These rates are temporary, however, and are not guaranteed. It would be delusional to believe the annual interest burden, which is very high, will remain stable. Everything in this budget is built on the illusion that the cost of servicing debt will remain stable, but all the evidence points to the opposite. Surely the primary lesson of the events a decade ago should be to avoid the pretence that sudden windfalls of tax revenue can provide the basis for spending commitments that last far beyond the lifespan of the goose that lays golden eggs for a short period. So it was a decade ago when low interest rates lured a delusional Government, just newly in the euro, to build property tax shelters into the income tax code, with catastrophic results of boom and inevitable bust.