Don't stand idly by

Join the march on Nov 27th - Jack O'Connor President of Congress

Jack O'ConnorJack O'Connor President of ICTUTHE Government has promised the harshest budget since the foundation of the state as its parting gift to the people of Ireland.

This is the result of allowing speculators, bankers and developers to run riot, pillaging and ruining our economy.

They capped it all by including useless banking institutions in the credit guarantee scheme on September 29, 2008, thus mortgaging the future of everyone who lives in Ireland.

We are told the impending draconian budget is essential to convince investors in the bond markets to lend us the money to run the country. This is exactly the same as what we were told last year when a cut of €4 billion was inflicted. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. It doesn't work.

More businesses closed, more people lost their jobs and the economy recorded no growth whatsoever. It didn't work in the bond markets either and borrowing rates have escalated.

The bond buyers don't care whether we eat caviar for the next four years or starve to death.

They are only interested in knowing how we are going to grow our economy so that we can pay them their money back.

That cannot happen without a credible plan for investment and measures to promote domestic demand, instead of cutting it.

Our national sovereignty is at stake as a result of the Government's policies.

The EU is insisting on reduction of the gap between our state revenue and spending to 3% of GDP by 2014. This is a virtually impossible target because it restricts the capacity for growth.

However, if we disregard it there is a real danger that the European Central Bank will stop funding our domestic banks, resulting in a total collapse.

It will not stop at the timeframe for the adjustment.

Already, unbridled free-marketeers in the EU are insisting on restructuring our labour market, i.e. curtailment of people's rights at work, social welfare entitlements, etc.

Repeatedly we are told that there is no alternative and there is no point in protesting.

This is completely untrue. There is a better, fairer way.

The timeframe for the adjustment is too short. It should be extended to 2017.

Critical issues remain at play.

The economy is in the doldrums because people are afraid to spend. They are afraid of losing their jobs, their homes and their pensions. Yet the savings ratio has more than doubled since 2007.

The key to recovery is a credible plan for job creation to inspire hope and confidence. This cannot be accomplished without an intelligent strategy for investment.

The Congress of Trade Unions has developed comprehensive proposals.

At least €2 billion per year from the National Pensions Reserve Fund should be deployed for the next three years to fund new projects and businesses. Our commercial
semi-state companies should be directed to raise off balance sheet resources for investment.

Some of the €80 billion held in Irish occupational pension funds can be brought into play. This approach would result in the creation of tens of thousands of jobs. The other great question which remains to be decided is as to who is going to bear the burden of the adjustment?

Over the last two years the Government has inflicted over €14 billion of cuts. The lion's share of these have been shouldered by working people and those who depend most on public services, while the wealthy have remained pretty much insulated. There is talk of broadening the 'tax base'. In other countries this usually means raising tax on wealth and capital, but here it seems it's only about middle and lower income families paying more. We must reverse this equation.

The people cannot be expected to endure misery whilst those who contributed most to the cause of the problem go on living pretty much as they always have. It is time to insist on taxing the greedy not the needy.

There are more ways of influencing budgetary policy than waiting until whenever the Government sees fit to call it a day and go to the country. It may be too late by then.

Democracy is about more than just voting in elections once every five years. We must not stand idly by while the final nail is driven into the coffin. We can influence the
outcome by turning out and joining the march for 'A Better, Fairer Way' in Dublin on Saturday, November 27.