Eamon Gilmore says Budget is 'very tough' but fairTuesday 04 December 2012 22.13
The Government says it is seeking to protect the most vulnerable people in tomorrow's Budget, however Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has warned that it is going to be "very tough".
Fianna Fáil has called on Fine Gael and Labour to honour promises not to cut services for people with disabilities.
Sinn Féin has criticised reports that the threshold for paying PRSI is to be lowered, claiming such a move would disproportionately affect the worse-off.
Some €3.5bn worth of increased taxes and spending cuts are to be announced tomorrow.
Government ministers said today that difficult decisions had been made, but it had tried to make Budget 2013 as fair as possible.
In the Dáil this afternoon, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams asked Taoiseach Enda Kenny to clear up some rumours about the Budget.
In particular, Mr Adams wondered why child benefit may be hit, when families are struggling.
Responding, the Taoiseach said some of the speculation had been fuelled by members of Sinn Féin.
Mr Kenny said the country faced a challenging time and the Government was dealing with it.
He said the Budget would be a further step and it would make Ireland an attractive place for outside investors.
On his way into a Cabinet meeting this morning, Mr Gilmore said those who have the most will contribute most.
He offered a glimpse of hope when he said that this Budget would pave the way for the end to years of austerity measures.
Mr Gilmore said: "It is the Budget that is going to get us to 85% of the adjustment that has to be made, and will therefore put the end in sight for these types of measures and these types of Budgets."
Easy options are 'long gone' - Coveney
Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said this morning that the easy options were long gone, but after blunt and mature discussion, both parties had hammered out a Budget they "could live with".
Mr Coveney said it was a difficult Budget to put together, as "it's the sixth Budget in a row where taxes have had to be increased and where expenditure has been cut".
Remaining tight-lipped on the detail, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said he is satisfied with the cuts and changes he has made to the education budget.
Mr Quinn said there had been tension between the Labour Party and Fine Gael as they finalised the Budget.
But he said it was not personal, and that 90% of the decisions were made without "much difficulty".
Meanwhile, the Exchequer returns for November show a significant fall in tax collected from the self-employed sector.
The drop in revenues will be a concern for the Government ahead of tomorrow's Budget.
It highlights a problem among an important group of taxpayers and points to a continuing weakness in the domestic economy.
The returns for November show that the Government's tax-take for the year to date is running €171m behind target.