Friday, 10 December 2010
Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill 2010: Second Stage (Resumed)
Joe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
The purpose of this Bill is to cut public services, the pay rates of Government officeholders and to take €1 or 11.5% off the minimum wage. The Bill contains another batch of cuts following on the slash and burn Social Welfare Bill yesterday. This time it is public service pensioners and the minimum wage earners who are hit. A sweetener is thrown in, curtailing the earnings of the Taoiseach by 5% and the Tánaiste and Ministers by 4.5%. While those reductions follow on 20% and 15% reductions respectively last year, they certainly will not put the Taoiseach or his Cabinet on the breadline. The annual remuneration of the Taoiseach will still be a hefty €214,187 while the Tánaiste will still earn €197,486 and each Minister will earn €181,283. The Labour Party believes nobody in the State sector should have a salary of over €200,000. There should be a statutory maximum salary in the public service and €200,000 should be the absolute ceiling, with the Taoiseach leading by example. The Cabinet salaries should be reduced proportionately. The Minister for Finance stated in his budget address:
The Government believes there should be a maximum salary rate of €250,000 in the public sector. Only a few officeholder posts have salaries above this level at present but there is a larger number in the State agencies.
What is the Minister going to do about it? He proceeds, typically, to suggest that we will "enforce the objective of the maximum salary [€250,000] within a reasonable timeframe" but there is no reasonable timeframe for those on social welfare whose income is being reduced to less than €200 weekly. The blind the disabled, the widowed, the lone parent, the unemployed and the carer are not being provided the buffer of a "reasonable timeframe".