Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Pat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
If Mr. McCreevy was listening in the Berlemont building to the revelation that all this time he was the Minister for Finance of a socialist Government, he would be twirling on a spit. How can the Taoiseach rhyme off such statistics when the Government sucked the average industrial earner, to whom he referred, into paying tax at the top or marginal rate for the first time in the history of the State? For the first time, people earning €258 and with three children cannot get a medical card. The Government has taken 101,000 medical cards out of the system in contradiction of a programme for Government pledge to enhance it by 200,000, not counting the impact of the people over 70 years to whom the Government extended the scheme.
There are 315 social and affordable houses. The Government has structured the tax system in such a way that shelters and tax incentives are available to people even where there is no economic merit to the continuation of a particular scheme. Very high rollers in our society can organise their tax affairs in such a fashion that they quite legitimately have no tax liability. According to the most recent figures, 11 millionaires have no tax liability at all while, at the same time, the average industrial earner or someone on 90% of the national minimum wage is liable to pay tax. The Government cut €58 million from the most vulnerable in our society and pulled the plug on the election promise of fast tracking €2 billion to urban areas in which poverty is clustered as soon as the election was over. How can the Taoiseach reconcile that with his calculatedly cynical attempt to re-brand and re-position the most right wing Government this State has seen since its foundation?