[Sinn Fein]

2 December 1998

Welfare increases disappointing - Tax reforms welcome

In his reaction to Budget `99 Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised the low level of social welfare increases and welcomed tax reform measures. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The low level of social welfare increases are very disappointing. Given the massive budget surplus the failure to give a substantial rise in social welfare rates is unacceptable and yet again leaves the unemployed and others dependent on social welfare out in the cold.

``The long-awaited tax reform measures in this Budget vindicates the efforts of people over many years to inject more fairness into the taxation system. It vindicates also those of us who criticised the `98 Budget as a Budget for the Wealthy. As such the tax measures are welcome and give some much-needed relief to the lower paid.

``It is disappointing therefore that no action has been taken to complement these tax measures with the implementation of a Minimum Wage.

``In the face of a housing crisis the measures announced on housing are totally inadequate. Only 4,500 housing starts in 1999 throughout the 26 Counties is going to leave many tens of thousands on the housing waiting lists.

``The relief for low income farmers is welcome. However the breadth of the farm crisis has not been recognised and there is nothing in the Budget to assist the many farm families hard hit by the current fodder shortage.''

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