FG Bill would force Govt to implement key McCarthy recommendations
Government Ministers would be given a four week deadline to cut prices of vital State items like TV licences, State exam fees, A&E charges and passports under plans being debated tonight (Tuesday) in the Dáil. Regulators would be given three months to do the same for their areas like ESB, gas, bus and train fares, tolls and airport charges.
Fine Gael Enterprise Spokesman Leo Varadkar TD has prepared emergency legislation which would force the Government to impose 5% cuts on its own prices, and for Regulators to reduce their own charges. This would save the average family around €400 a year.
“Thanks to this Government, people have seen their incomes and benefits cut, and their taxes hiked upwards. Many have lost their jobs. The crisis in the real economy stems from unemployment and declining competitiveness. This crisis is doing the most damage to our society, but is being ignored by the Government. If Fianna Fáil and the Greens can use emergency financial legislation to cut pay and benefits, surely it can use the same mechanism to cut its own charges?
“Last year the Government actually increased its own charges by 6.7%, while prices across the economy fell by 5%. It’s easy to forget the extent to which the Government controls prices in the economy through direct charges, indirect taxes and through it regulators:
- TV licence (€160);
- Driving licence (€25);
- Passport (€80);
- A+E charge (€100);
- Inpatient charge (€75);
- Junior/Leaving Cert (roughly €100); and
- Third level registration (€1,500).
“The price of petrol, diesel and home-heating oil prices consists mainly of taxes levied by the Government including excise, VAT and the carbon tax. And the Government’s regulators set most bus and train fares, most motorway tolls, electricity and gas, telephone charges and postage, and airport charges. Despite recent reductions, our household electricity prices are above average in the Eurozone and are among the highest for medium-sized industry.
“Fine Gael’s Bill requires all Government Ministers to present to the Dáil within four weeks a plan to reduce all charges set by them by 5%. And with regard to prices set by the government’s regulators, this Bill requires that Ministers require regulators to publish their own proposals within three months.”