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Tánaiste assures government will not cut salaries or raise income tax in Ireland

DUBLIN: The Tánaiste assured that the government would not try to cut salaries or increase taxes, even though there are still financial problems caused by COVID-19.

Leo Varadkar has stated that there will be no cuts to public sector pay or increase in income tax in the name of pandemic. He also made it clear that pre-pandemic social welfare payments would also not be reduced. Mr. Varadkar said things would continue as they are for at least two years.

The Tánaiste said that the government is trying to re-open the country and give people optimism. There have been reports of accumulation of deposits in banks in Ireland. People have invested about €14 billion in savings in Irish bank accounts due to a lack of spending opportunities. They haven’t had the opportunity to spend money for the last 12 months due to continuous lockdowns and restrictions. The government intends to give them back this opportunity. Assuring that there will be no tax will give people more confidence in spending money, which will benefit the economy.

“We borrowed €19bn last year and it will likely be similar this year… and that can’t go on forever,” Tánaiste said. Ireland will get money at a lower cost due to European Central Bank policy. Mr. Varadkar said that the government would not be able to continue like this all the time, but would not take any action that would be unfavourable to the people.

“I remember 10 years ago I was a young member of a new government and at that time we had 15pc unemployment with 30pc of youth unemployed. The public finances were in a terrible state and a lot of people were very pessimistic then about whether we would ever recover or bounce back and we did.”

“Up until the pandemic, we had almost full employment, a budget surplus and incomes were rising while inequality and deprivation were falling in Ireland. I think we can bounce back quickly and I believe we will bounce back quickly,” he said.

The government will provide assistance to all those who are unemployed due to the pandemic. Discrimination against private-public employment still exists in the country. Those who work in the private sector have been the worst hit. The government will be there to help them – Tánaiste said.

“We are retraining people but it is quite difficult at the moment as so much of it is done online. Tens of thousands of places are available for people to go back to education, we’re incentivising employers to take on apprentices so there are a lot of opportunities there available. For people on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, they can go straight on the Back to Education Allowance or the Back to Enterprise Allowance.”

“I know it is difficult given the circumstances but I know an actress who is now gone back teaching and a pilot from my constituency who is now a maths teacher,” Mr. Varadkar said.

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