The chair of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has said that hard choices on tax and the pension age will be required over the next five years as a new government seeks to recover from the Covid-19 crisis and looks to deliver ambitious new projects. 

Sebastian Barnes said politicians need "to keep everything on the table" so they have a full range of choices available to decide how to deal with the lasting impact of the crisis, but also to deliver on some ambitious projects such as Slaintecare, housing and on climate change. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Barnes said that income tax, which makes up about a third of the tax base, "is very important".

Mr Barnes said it would be "a good idea to have a good look at the tax system" and make sure it works as well as it could. 

He said it is right that the Government continues to support businesses and individuals with welfare supports and subsidies as part of the current emergency phase of the crisis. 

The next phase will see more borrowing as unemployment remains high and demand for services is low, he said. 

Mr Barnes said a comprehensive spending review process is needed to see how cost efficiencies can be made and he warned that some tough decisions will be needed on major capital projects. 

The Fiscal Council supports "a strong, fair and efficient tax base'" and other countries are looking at changes to property, inheritance, wealth and tax bands, he stated. 

Mr Barnes said the pension age will also need to be considered as it costs €600m every year as it is.  

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He said the questions about whether it is a priority to change it or make savings in the coming years will need to be asked.

All of these decisions will need to be balanced against healthcare demands and hard choices will have to be made.

He also said the EU has been very helpful through the European Central Bank's role in making borrowing available.