Dec 05 2011

Irish Budget – Day 1

Category: EconomyTeknovis @ 10:42 pm

The Irish Government spent today announcing the first part of the budget – the spending cuts. I must admit that I am very disappointed with it. I was hoping for some creativity, some imagination, some willingness to confront the problems. Instead it consisted of minor tinkering. Perhaps this is to be expected from a government that is being lead by a primary school teacher :|

So where does the problem lie? Enda clearly identified it in his speech to the nation the other night (see Full text of Taoiseach’s speech):

Right now, the State is spending €16 billion a year more than it is taking in.

Yes – it really is that simple! The Government is spending too much money that it does not have! Most of this money is being spent on social welfare and the civil service.

So what is the Government doing to address this? Again, let me quote Enda:

The pay and pensions of senior public servants have been cut.

Excellent!

However, the reality of what is happening is very different. Indeed, one only needs to look at today’s media! For example, consider Controversy over pay rise for Govt adviser:

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said he understood how people might find it difficult to understand how a Government adviser, Ciaran Conlon, could be paid a salary of €127,000 after a €35,000 pay rise following an intervention from the Taoiseach.

Now perhaps this could be justified if Ciaran Conlon was coming from the private sector, and he had skills that were essential to the Government. Unfortunately, his previous employer was Enda’s own party – Fine Gael :(

I will not claim to know if Enda’s actions in this matter are due to simple ineptitude or intended cronyism. Either way, Ireland deserves better!

However, this level of hypocrisy is not confined to politicians within the civil service.

Another measure announced in today’s Budget was a cut to teaching funding. Again, this is designed to try and reduce the excessive amount of borrowing that is being done to sustain an expensive civil service. The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), amongst others, has publicly denounced these measures (see Live – Budget 2012 and Cut in teacher numbers a disaster for schools – TUI):

The TUI has said a cut in teacher numbers will be a disaster for schools and said they would be “catastrophic” for the life chances of the most vulnerable.

The Association of Secondary School Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) also commented publicly on the cuts (see Live – Budget 2012 and Budget 2012 – education measures and ASTI reaction):

The ASTI says today’s Budget cuts mean the majority of second-level schools will lose one teacher and schools will see a reduction in funding for their day to day running costs.

It all reads very genuinely!

Unfortunately, neither organisation found the time today to comment on the cost to the Government of ensuring that over half their members get pay rises next year (see Pay rises on way for 50 per cent of teachers)!

Almost half of all teachers will receive pay increases next September of €1,000 to €3,615 a year, as guaranteed under the Croke Park agreement.

And:

The salary increments will cost €13.8m for 19,500 primary teachers, and a further €6.4m for 1,000 second-level teachers.

I guess the teachers are really more concerned that their salaries keep inflating at the expense of both the education system, and the private sector tax payers in Ireland. Shameful.

So yes, I am very disappointed that Enda and his colleagues have not taken any real measures to reduce the unsustainable Government spending that is occurring on both social welfare and the civil service.

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