Fine Gael have put forward their Five Point Plan to Recovery.
Number One – Protecting and creating jobs
Why? Because jobs and opportunity are the best chance of keeping our best asset – our young people – at home.
We plan to create 100,000 jobs over the next five years. On top of that, 45,000 places in training and second-start education. We’ll cut employers’ PRSI; lower VAT on labour-intensive services like restaurants, hairdressers, builders.
We’ll invest an extra €7 billion from State pension funds and sale of non-strategic assets into key areas like water, energy and broadband networks.
We’ll support Ireland’s small businesses by lowering the costs imposed on them by the State. When Micheál Martin was Minister for Enterprise, Ireland’s competiveness collapsed. We’ll revive our competitiveness and make Ireland, the best small country in the world in which to do business, by 2016. An important date for all of us.
Number Two – We’ll introduce better, fairer budgets so we can keep taxes low
Yes. We’ll tackle the budget deficit by cutting waste. Not raising taxes.
High taxes kill jobs, so we will keep them low. Income tax especially.
You know, Fine Gael is the only Party with a costed, credible plan to tackle the deficit. Other Parties want to delay. They want to raise taxes. We say no. Because delay is dangerous. It will increase uncertainty and kill the early chance of economic recovery.
Ireland will never fix its finances if we continue to write blank cheques to reckless banks. Last Monday, I went to see Chancellor Merkel, with a clear objective. To make it plain that the IMF/EU deal is bad for Ireland, bad for Europe and needs to be renegotiated.
I also told her that Ireland wants to pay its way and play its part but that we need the solidarity of our European partners. That’s the way we have succeeded internationally in the past. By building alliances, fostering relationships. Not by banging the table and demanding our way.
Number Three – We will create a completely New Health System
Micheal Martin’s creation, the HSE, is costing €18 billion a year. Not to work. 2010 was a record year for sick people on trolleys.
Fianna Fail wants to keep the HSE just as it is. Labour wants to keep the HSE too. Just call it something else.
Fine Gael is the only party demanding real, credible change. Because we believe that despite the €18 billion a year, the HSE is de facto defunct. It cannot be reformed. It must be replaced.
Our FairCare plan – modelled on the reformed Dutch health service – will cut waiting lists and end the killing apartheid in our health service.
With universal insurance, we’ll offer equal access to all. There’ll be more and better community care, meaning fewer hospital stays. Fewer hospital patients mean lower hospital costs for the taxpayer.
Number Four – There’ll be Smaller, Better Government with the people’s money spent wisely on vital public services
By streamlining systems, cutting red tape and abolishing quangos, we’ll reduce public service costs by €5 billion.
If we don’t? Taxes will have to go up. The IMF will demand cuts to public service numbers or public service pay.
Let me be clear: Our public servants are the people who teach our children, nurse us back to health, keep our streets and communities safe for us all.
There will be no compulsory redundancies.
With more efficient systems, we can protect essential services. If huge countries like Sweden and Canada can do it, why can’t we?
Number Five – The Political System itself must change
It must do more. Cost less. And for a change, the Government must lead by example.
This week our plans for political reform came out tops. We’ll cut the number of politicians by over a third. We’ll impose a ceiling on higher public-service salaries, including for the Taoiseach and the Cabinet.
We’ll end severance payments, start car-pooling for ministers.
We’ll guarantee proper accountability for decisions. A single-chamber parliamentary system, with powerful Dail committees, will hold Ministers to greater account.
We’ll ban corporate donations and involve the people in the process of political change. With our plan, when cuts are needed, they start at the top. Not with the blind, or the carers.
Accountability and sacrifice? Likewise. That’s example. Do as I do. Not as I say.
Because if someone gives us the most precious possession a democrat has – their trust, their vote – then we will respond in kind.
With our plan we’ll replace old government cynicism with new government courage, compassion. We’ll replace old government indifference with new government insight. We’ll replace the old dysfunction and disorder at the heart of government, with a new government that holds the hearts, the needs and most importantly, the hopes of the nation, right here within its own.