Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe hints at new subsidies for energy bills in budget

Any permanent concessions in the Budget will have to be sustainable into the future, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said, while hinting at new subsidies for energy bills.

ut Mr Donohoe warned that temporary moves can be whipped away in the future.

“I think the Government has clearly demonstrated during the pandemic that all the measures we said would be temporary have now come to an end,” he said.

“Therefore as soon as we’re in a position to see lower prices of energy, I’m very confident that at that point the Government will act to change the measures that are there.”

He also strongly suggested that Government would ease the tax burden on workers in the budget, particularly those at marginal tax rate.

He said: “We do need to help workers, so that if they get a wage increase to help them with the rising cost of living, then they get the opportunity to keep most of the wages that they have earned themselves.”

In a signal to the public not to expect subsidies to continue when energy prices inevitably fall, Mr Donohoe said: “Whatever decisions we make now, we have to be able to stand over even if circumstances change in the future.

“When you see the summer economic statement this afternoon, you’ll see a clear breakdown of measures we have brought in that are permanent and measures that are temporary.”

Mr Donohoe gave no specific details about the statement to be unveiled later today.

But he said: “We will be vindicated this afternoon, because we’ll be able to show the resources that are available to the country for next year, and how the Government will be able to agree a cost of living package.”

This would “make a difference to the pressures that we know so many households are facing at the moment”.

“We do really appreciate that with the rising cost of fuel and food, so many purses and wallets are really feeling the effects of rising prices.

“But this is a challenge that is going to be with us for many months. It’s going to be with us next year.

“And because of that the most effective and most appropriate way to deal with that is the budget.”

The summer economic statement will show the resources available, he said.

“We’re very conscious that whatever decisions we make now, we have to be able to stand over even if circumstances change in the future. And I think that will be a guiding principle for the Government.|”

Mr Donohoe insisted there was “an atmosphere in which wages are going up”, although many private employees might beg to differ.

He added: “We also recognise that we have measures in place from a taxation point of view to bring down prices on fuel that are currently expensive.”

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