Coalition fails to share the wealth - Ó Caoláin
Responding to Charlie McCreevy's budget Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said:
``Charlie McCreevy has failed to share the wealth equitably as well as showing that this government lacks a clear direction and vision.
``Many will give an initial welcome to the budget but when examine what more could have been done, they will realise how inadequate Minister McCreevy's budget really is. There are a number of positive elements which I have no hesitation in welcoming but overall this has been yet another missed opportunity to redistribute wealth in our society.
``The cut of 2% in the top rate of tax is indefensible. Once again those who need it least are to benefit most.
``In Sinn Fein's pre-Budget submission we urged that ALL tax reductions should be concentrated on removing the lower paid from the tax net. This has not been done. The single rate of tax-free allowance has reached a figure of £7,488 with the over 65s being allowed £8,500. Both of these fall significantly short of our proposal that those under £11,400 should be exempted and that single earners should not be included in the higher rate band until they reach a threshold of £28,400.
``Increases for pensioners were welcome but should have been applied to all social welfare recipients. Other social welfare recipients should have received at least a £10 per week increase.
``The Minister had nothing to offer to those senior citizens, mainly women who are dependent on the pension of their spouse for their income. He failed to introduce a non-contributory old-age pension that would be means assessed on an individual basis. These people, who are denied their independence and dignity, do not exist in Minister McCreevy's world despite his talk of appreciating the ``workers of yesteryear''.
``The extended period for fuel allowance is after all essential given Irish climate conditions. However, the minister had no increase in this payment to offer.
``Farming was relegated to a minor section of this Budget which offered little to that sector.
``In the vital area of housing, the Budget offers no radical measures to increase local authority provision and gives instead a tax exemption for those renting spare rooms - an admission of failure if ever there was one.''