Budget 2006 brings to fruition many of the ideals championed by the Progressive Democrats in Government, according to the Party’s chief whip Liz O’Donnell.
She said the Party’s pursuit of low tax, fair tax and social justice was reflected in many of the measures announced by the Minister for Finance.
“We are responsible, in conjunction with our coalition partner, for a progressive Budget that uses the fruits of our prosperity to help the most vulnerable in society,” she said.
Deputy O’Donnell said the Progressive Democrats particularly welcomed the €787 million euro childcare package that will help ease the financial burden on parents of young children by creating 50,000 additional childcare places.
“Firstly, the new payment of €1,000 a year for each child under six reflects our long-held view that we should maximise childcare choices for families. Secondly, we welcome the income disregard for tax purposes for childcare earnings of up to a maximum of €10,000.
“Families will welcome the news that the rate of child benefit will increase to €150 per month for first and second children and to €185 for subsequent children, as well as a phased increase in paid maternity leave entitlement from 18 weeks to 26 weeks.”
She said the package for the elderly in our community represented the largest ever increase in funding for the provision of care of older people in their own homes.
“We welcome the continued steady rise in the old-age pension, now at an all-time high. The Tanaiste and Minister for Health Mary Harney, who has been responsible for putting care of the elderly at the heart of this budget, will be outlining the details of the elderly care package tomorrow.”
Deputy O’Donnell said welfare and pension increases showed that the Progressive Democrats did not pursue economic growth for its own sake.
“The more the economy develops, the more jobs we create. This means more revenue is generated for the vulnerable in our society and for the development of public services.
“We are pleased that the so-called ‘super-rich’ can no longer escape paying their fair share of tax. And we welcome the retention of the tax exemption for artists, believing that a cap of €250,000 on earnings is a sensible measure.”