Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the government has “additional emergency funds” on top of its €2 billion reserves and will “reassess” the situation in the new year.
r Varadkar will become Taoiseach in December and he said the 2023 budget has been “preloaded” to help people who are struggling now.
“The one-off payments fall pretty much right between now and Christmas. The energy discounts are before and after Christmas and then the weekly price increases will take place in the New Year. So basically we go with the budget. People become more open. Then, in the new year, you see permanent increases in payments, pensions, benefits, and permanent cuts in income taxes. But we have to see where we are in January, February. You know, it’s possible that we’ll see gas and electricity prices falling by then,” he said.
“So it’s not like nothing happens in the new year, actually there will be the energy credit and there will be social security tax increases, but if prices keep going up we’ll have to look at that again in the new year and that’s why we have money in the tank.”
Speaking of RTÉ Tomorrow IrelandMr Varadkar fought back Sinn Féin’s criticism that a price cap on energy had not been included in the budget.
Mairead Farrell, TD of Sinn Fein, said on the same show that people “needed reassurance about electricity prices, they needed to see this electricity price cap”.
However, Mr Varadkar said that while he is “always afraid to rule something out”, introducing a price cap could place the government with a “big financial obligation”.
“Our nervousness and concern about this is that it is essentially a contract for differences. It’s the thing that brought down Anglo Irish Bank, it sounds a bit like a bank guarantee, it’s impossible, you know, if you really want to say it, to guarantee companies for the markets, for the people who Produce gas and oil that are not in Ireland, that we pay anything above that price, you are building yourself up to a very large financial obligation, in a manner of speaking, which you cannot pay, and that is risky, and perhaps too risky, I think opinion,” he said.
A scheme to help businesses with energy bills has also been included in the budget, allowing them to reclaim up to €10,000 a month. The Temporary Business Energy Support Scheme, or TBESS, is a €1.25 billion program open to any business that has seen energy prices fall 50 percent or more.
Defending the inclusion of companies making big profits in the scheme, Mr Varadkar said: “We do not want to prevent companies from making profits. The purpose of this energy subsidy is to allow companies to keep things running. It’s not just about protecting the business; It’s about protecting the people who work in these companies.”
He argued the government took a “prudent approach” and if the costs of increased welfare payments, energy credits and fuel allowance payments were combined, it would put “well over €1,000” back in people’s pockets.
According to the changes announced yesterday, the top tax rate of 40% will only apply to income above €40,000 from January 1st.
Ahead of the budget, the Tánaiste called for an additional tax rate of 30 percent, but said increasing the tax margin to €40,000 is a “big step forward” and it will be worth €800 a year to “many people”.
“You see, you can focus on any aspect of the budget and say it’s unfair,” he added.
“You have to take the budget round and when you do that – and that’s not my opinion, this is Treasury Department’s independent analysis – you see a very progressive budget where those on the lowest incomes get the most and the highest incomes get the lowest.”
Speaking later to Pat Kenny on Newstalk, Mr Varadkar said tax officials had analyzed the 30 per cent proposal but decided it could not go ahead this year, but would if revisited in 2024.
https://www.independent.ie/news/tanaiste-insists-front-loaded-budget-will-help-people-now-and-additional-contingency-funds-in-place-42023301.html Tánaiste insists the ‘frontloaded’ budget will help people now and there are ‘additional funds for emergencies’