Quick Guide: What those Labour budget proposals actually mean

The Labour party pre-budget plan, In Ireland’s Interests, [PDF link] runs to 34 pages. Much of it is feel-good promises and aspirations, but it does also contain some concrete proposals. We look at some of the highlights from the plan and what they will mean for you.

Imposing a €6 billion adjustment in 2011 poses an unacceptable risk to jobs and growth … By making some €5 billion in adjustments, and by recycling €500m into job creation, a net adjustment of €4.5 million can be made.

Relax. Labour will amputate your legs below the knee. And use anaesthetic.

Labour is proposed an allocation of €500m for the Jobs Fund in 2011.

No haircuts for FÁS then.

Labour favours a negotiated wage freeze for three years.

See that snow storm outside? That’s your pay cheque.

A Strategic Investment Bank (SIB), using €2billion from the National Pension Reserve Fund as capital.

Because the way things are going, pretty soon we won’t have any other banks left.

Irish citizens and the Irish Diaspora would be encouraged to make deposits in the bank, and to purchase Strategic Investment Bank Citizen’s Bonds.

Also known as Milk The Emigrants. You didn’t think you were going to get away scot-free just because you emigrated, did you? Still, at least it goes some way to getting rid of the No Representation Without Taxation argument against voting rights for the dearly departed.

In the emerging economies, more than 70 million people each year enter the category of middle class consumers — people who will have an appetite for Irish products and Irish brands. This represents a huge opportunity for Ireland.

Also, soon they will be richer than us.

A web-based brokerage service connects employers offering placements and prospective interns.

Oh good, another website. Because there aren’t any recruitment companies in Ireland advertising jobs online.

Labour will extend the Employer PRSI Incentive Scheme, and extend the exemption period to 18 months, to incentivise employers to employ people who have been on the live register for six months or more.

Though wouldn’t it make more sense for the party of labour to cut employee PRSI, putting more money in the pockets of working people?

Public Service Reform: The Comprehensive Spending Review.

Nothing to see here. Move along please.

A 50 percent increase in Dáil sitting days, with sittings four days a week, a shorter summer recess and significantly reduced breaks at Christmas and Easter.

Don’t mock. A four-day week and only a month off in the summer is a step forward for these guys. Honest.

A petition system for the Dáil, similar to that operating in the European Parliament.

Or the Crank’s Charter, as they fondly refer to it in Brussels.

A break-up of the Government monopoly on legislation and its stranglehold over the business of the Dáil.

Transport policy sub-contracted to Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. Controversial votes to be settled by Joe Duffy’s Liveline phone-in polls.

Labour’s legislation will significantly reduce the limit on political donations to political parties and candidates to €2,500 and €1,000 respectively, and require disclosure of all aggregate sums above €1,500 and €600 respectively.

Why stop there? Why not just declare every donation?

Transparency is one of the most powerful weapons against corruption. Labour will restore the Freedom of Information Act so that it is as comprehensive as was originally intended. The remit of the FOI Act, and the remit of the Ombudsman Act, will be extended to the Garda Síochána, the Central Bank and many other bodies, including bodies significantly funded from the public purse, that are currently excluded.

I can’t actually be smart-alecky about that one. As a journalist and a citizen, I’m all for improved Freedom of Information.

And finally, the cuts:

Reduced funding for Rural recreation €0.6 million.

Because culchies shouldn’t have fun. Seriously though, there’s a rural recreation fund? Where do I apply?

Cap the artist’s exemption at €40,000.

Bono will be so pleased.

Lower Exchequer Contribution to Local Government Fund €75 million.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve really missed the potholes.

Labour is proposing a third rate of tax at 48 percent on joint incomes over €200,000 (single incomes over €100,000).

Again I have to wonder, how rich must you be before you’re considered rich in Ireland? How many households earn over €200,000?