[Sinn Fein]

5th December 2001

Budget 2002 fails to deliver

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP has described Budget 2002 as a weak budget with a lot of token measures aimed not at prudent and creative economic planning but at next year's elections.  Mr. Adams said:

``This was Minister Charlie McCreevy's fifth budget and once again it was a budget aimed at the better off in society.  

''We saw increases in pensions and child benefit and while these are welcome there was no sign of the childcare strategy that has been promised throughout the lifetime of this government. The result is that thousands of parents will continue to be forced to spend a huge proportion of their income on childcare while they work long hours to pay their mortgage and queue for healthcare.

''It is clear that child benefit is not effective as a means of tackling poverty. Figures from Combat Poverty and Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) show that during this government and previous ones, the gap between rich and poor has grown. 170,000 children in the 26 Counties are suffering severe poverty while at least 370,000 are enduring some form of deprivation.

''On pensions, the increases will no doubt be welcome, but they do not do enough to tackle the slide into poverty that many Irish pensioners have had to endure. And it ignores the reality that more pensioners are in the lowest income groups in society at the end of his tenure in government than were at the start. 

''Tax reform and equality were mentioned a lot in the run up to this budget but the government once again failed to deliver. While corporation tax is decreased to 16% many low paid remain in the tax net, VAT is increased and social welfare increases are inadequate.

``This legacy of this government after five years in power is one of failure. Failure to take advantage the economic opportunities of the past five years and failure to improve the quality of ordinary people's lives.''ENDS

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