Budget Day came and went, and the usual suspects posed for the camera with a face full of smiles and a briefcase full of goodies.
A raft of measures were thrown down the ranks across the Dáil chamber, but any budget that patronizes pensioners with five extra euro coins in their weekly pensions and calls it a ‘boost’ is nothing less than deeply flawed, specially when politicians will benefit with many multiples of that amount themselves.
The main points of today’s Budget:
Cigarettes to be increased by 50 cent on pack of 20
New help-to-buy scheme for first-time buyers
The 9% VAT rate for the tourism industry will not be scrapped
A 0.5% cut in the three main rates of USC
2,400 extra teaching posts and 800 new Gardaí
DIRT to be cut by 2% each year for next four years
Pension up by €5 per week from March
Christmas bonus to welfare recipients will be at 85% of weekly payment this year
Additional €15m to deal with waiting lists
Budget includes €290m for pay increases across the public sector
New childcare scheme to subsidise payments will be means tested, and will not be available until September 2017
After 2018, the Government will set aside up to €1bn per year as a “rainy day” fund