EU/IMF paper sketches out Budget plans

Friday 29 July 2011 21.19
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EU/IMF deal - Government must draw up list of assets for sale
EU/IMF deal - Government must draw up list of assets for sale
Central Bank - Expects exports growth to moderate
Central Bank - Expects exports growth to moderate

The EU and IMF have detailed a list of tough new targets which will be included in the December's Budget.

Among the measures are social welfare spending cuts and mechanisms to raise more taxes, including a lowering of personal income tax bands and credits.

In an updated document posted on the Department of Finance website, the EU and IMF say €1.5 billion will be raised by way of increased taxation and €2.1 billion from expenditure cuts.

The paper says there will be a reduction in private pension tax reliefs, a property tax and reform of capital gains and capital acquisition tax.

It confirms an increase in the carbon tax, which was included in the State's four-year plan.

Spending cuts will include 'social expenditure reductions', it says.

The Government has also committed to publishing a new four-year plan for the public finances before December’s Budget, while it must also draw up a draft list of State assets to be sold off by the end of the year. This will include a timetable for when the assets will be sold.

Central Bank urges budget plan details

The Central Bank says the economy is still on track to record modest economic growth this year, though it has lowered its forecast slightly.

The bank says the recovery is being led by the export sector, which is continuing to perform well, while the domestic sector remains weak and is unlikely to return to positive growth until next year.

The bank also warns that high fuel prices, insurance and mortgage costs will be the main drivers of inflation.

The Central Bank says competitiveness has improved strongly over the past two years, mainly because there have been no pay rises, unlike our main trading partners. It says there is more to be done, particularly in terms of public sector reform.

The bank also called on the Government to outline its medium-term budget plans in as much detail as possible as soon as possible, to reduce uncertainty and help people plan their pattern of spending and saving in the years ahead.

The bank predicts that the economy, as measured by gross domestic product, will expand by 0.8% this year. This is down slightly from its forecast of 0.9% in April.

The Central Bank also said that its forecast for GNP - which excludes profits from the multi-nationals operating here - will fall by 0.3%. It had earlier predicted a flat GNP performance.

The bank said that exports continued to perform well in the first quarter of 2011, but it expects some moderation in demand during the rest of the year. It predicts that exports will grow by 6.4% this year and by 6.2% in 2012.

The Central Bank has also lowered its forecast for personal spending this year. It expects personal consumption to drop by 2.4%, with another fall of 0.6% in 2012.

The bank says weak labour market conditions and uncertainty about incomes are affecting consumer sentiment, while ECB interest rate increases are also affecting household spending.

Employment levels are also expected to continue to fall this year and the Central Bank says labour market conditions remain weak.

€281 billion in national wealth lost

A study published by Central Bank economists with its latest commentary has estimated that the country has lost €281 billion in wealth since the recession started in September 2008.

Most of the loss of wealth has occurred in the household sector due to falling property values. Savings have increased rapidly, but property values have fallen even more rapidly. It is only when property stops falling that the high savings rate will make a difference to national wealth, the study says.