Fine Gael has promised tax cuts and increased wages but insisted there can be no return to the “boom to bust” economic policies of the past.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar launched day two of Fine Gael’s election campaign in Dublin on Thursday with a focus on Brexit and the economy.
Mr Varadkar promised increased wages and said Fine Gael would create 200,000 new jobs by 2025.
He promised responsible management of the economy and to end the cycle of economic boom and bust.
“We want to make sure that there’s high quality employment for all those young people who are going to be finishing education and entering the workplace over the next couple of years,” he said.
Mr Varadkar added that while wages had grown 3.4% per year since the economy had recovered, they needed to increase further.
“We don’t think that’s enough. A lot of people are struggling with the cost of living, whether it’s childcare, saving for a mortgage or saving to go to college,” he said.
“In order to do that, we need to make sure that we put more money back in people’s pockets. We will do that in a number of ways. For example, increasing wages, the public sector pay deal and by increasing the minimum wage.”
Fine Gael has a plan to keep the economy strong:
➡Create 200k new & better jobs.➡Invest more in schools, hospitals & houses.➡Put more money in your pocket with tax cuts on average wages.➡Build up reserves to protect against financial shocks.#LookForward #GE2020 pic.twitter.com/H3of7WjD1y
— Fine Gael (@FineGael) January 16, 2020
Mr Varadkar said when Fianna Fail were in power, the economy went from boom to bust.
“I want to make sure it doesn’t happen after this election and that we break out of that boom to bust cycle so that we will never see high levels of unemployment again and high levels of emigration,” he said.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe criticised rival party Fianna Fail for their “if I have it, I spend it” approach when they were in Government.
“Too many of our communities and citizens still bear the scars of the economic crash,” he said.
“Under Fine Gael, our economy has grown, there is a job for everyone who wants one and wages have risen.
“But we know that’s not enough so we will build a new and better future for the country by delivering on four pillars.”
Mr Donohoe said Fine Gael would ensure careful management of the pubic’s finances so that the country was insulated from economic shocks.
“We achieved a surplus of 1.5 billion euro (£1.3 billion) last year, compared to a deficit of 23.5 billion euro (£20 billion) a decade previously when Fianna Fail was in Government,” he said.
“But it’s not enough, so we will use our strong economy to get to a surplus of nearly four billion euro (£3.4 billion) by 2021.
“Running a surplus like this makes sense as it protects us from any fall in the tax take from multi-nationals, which is a clear risk once global tax rules change.
“And we also reduce our public debt level to around 85% of national income by 2025 and then to 60% by 2030.”