Thursday, 8 December 2005
Financial Resolution No. 5: General (Resumed).
Tommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
The Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, is aware that I have always been a member of the Labour Party.
Such people reaped wonderful rewards from the era of "good time Charlie". It is now clear, however, that the McCreevy luck has deserted Fianna Fáil. Every time, for example, the Government has tried to shape the agenda in the past seven or eight months, going back to spring and early summer, it has generally been completely overtaken by nasty events. One only has to recall August, a time when the Government is usually able to control the agenda on a daily basis. Thanks to the brilliant forensic analysis of Eddie Hobbs, however, the Government completely lost control of the agenda. Mr. Hobbs pointed out the nature of the society Mr. McCreevy delivered in the course of those six and a half years.
I will refer briefly to the economic outlook. There are some frightening straws in the wind as the economic climate changes. It is not just that the energy picture is much more problematic and that some of the serious issues in energy and climate change will have to be addressed in the coming years. I advise the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, that this is not a laughing matter. One of the most significant straws in the wind is yesterday's development whereby the National Treasury Management Agency was given €20 million for the task of buying our carbon credits. We now know that in coming years, we will face a grave and growing bill, perhaps up to €100 million per year.
This issue was one of the responsibilities of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, in his previous Department. Because he and his successor, Deputy Noel Dempsey, did not address the issue, we face a situation next year where we know additional employment will fall, perhaps significantly. Net job increase is projected to drop by more than 20,000 jobs in comparison with 2005. This is a disturbing statistic given that we have been used to dramatic increases of 150% in the economy and 100% in the number of jobs.
Perhaps the most disturbing straw in the wind for the economy generally is the interest rise of 25 business points instigated by Jean-Claude Trichet and his colleagues in Frankfurt. This is a small change but one that will affect young couples and those paying mortgages and personal loans, in particular, in terms of the additional costs they must face next year. Those who are on the margins may find this the straw that breaks the camel's back. Neither the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, nor his successors will have control of monetary policy. We must put up with what happens in Frankfurt. The Minister correctly noted yesterday that we can expect a contraction next year in our largest industry, comprising those 250,000 construction workers who have turned out 200,000 units in recent years.