Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says that the slowdown in the economy has created a need for corrective measures and perhaps some belt tightening.

Speaking on the RTÉ programme 'The Week in Politics' the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described bench marking payments as a horrendous bill for the State but insisted that the public finances were not in a state of crisis. The Taoiseach said that corrective measures were not the same as cut backs. It was necessary for public finances to tighten up until the storms of difficulty blow over.

Fine Gael spokesperson for finance, Richard Bruton, said that the government had lost its grip on public spending and should come clean on the state of the public finances. Richard Bruton pointed to incompatible promises being made by the Minister for Finance when it comes to expenditure.

Can the economy afford all these promises he's making?

He said that the Central Bank has pointed out that if government plans are to be met, hard choices need to be made to meet these commitments.

Bertie Ahern said that more resources are needed in the areas of health, infrastructure and education. However, expenditure in these areas will mean tightening spending in others.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 30 June 2002. The reporter is Teresa Mannion.