George Lee: How I would fix the economy
Every lost job is costing us €20,000, so first priority is to get people back to work. And I'd start by cutting taxes and selling Bord Gais
Given the chance, I will put jobs protection and creation at the heart of Ireland's economic strategy.
Through its reckless management of the property sector and the public finances, this Government has destroyed Ireland's competitiveness and is now chasing the economy downwards with ever greater cuts in investment and taxes on ordinary families, destroying ever more jobs.
I believe we will never fix the deficit in public finances unless we reverse the haemorrhage of jobs in our economy and get people back to work. Every job lost adds another €20,000 to Government borrowing.
1. I would finance a massive job-intensive investment programme in green energy, broadband and clean water, financed in part by selling off state companies like Bord Gais and parts of ESB that the State no longer needs to own.
2. I would fight for a fairer sharing of the burden of rising taxes. Middle income families on an average wage should not be paying 51pc in tax on every extra euro earned (41pc income tax, 4pc PRSI, 4pc health levy, income levy 2pc), while non-resident millionaires who creamed it during the boom years pay nothing. This is hardly the strategy needed to encourage people to put in the effort and initiative needed to create new jobs and economic opportunities.
3. I would reverse the increase in the VAT to 21.5pc announced by the Government last October, which has combined with the weakness of sterling to see a deluge of hard-pressed Irish shoppers crossing the border, at the expense of thousands of Irish jobs and hundreds of millions in lost tax revenues.
4. I would cut the reduced 13.5pc rate of VAT to just 10pc between now and the end of 2010. This would stimulate labour-intensive services like construction, help the tourism industry through the downturn, and give a huge incentive for first time buyers to bring forward purchases of new houses, helping to resolve crises in banking and the public finances.
5. I would freeze local authority rates for at least five years.
6. I would legislate to make upward only rent reviews for small businesses illegal.
7. I would exempt employers who take on additional staff from additional employer PRSI obligations until the end of 2010.
8. I would make sure that taxpayer support for banks is used only to support new lending to small businesses and families, not to nurse along dodgy property related debts to Fianna Fail's developer friends. The banks, the professional investors who funded them and developers should between themselves take care of the mess they have created. They made the big profits in the good years. They should now eat the losses.
9. I would fight to make performance, accountability and thrift core values of our public service once again, starting with the political system itself, and cut top-end public sector salaries, including those of TDs, by at least 5pc.
10. I would overhaul the massive public sector quangos like the HSE, CIE and FAS and expose them to more competition in order to deliver vital health, transport and training services more effectively and at less cost to the taxpayer.
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