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Leo “stands over” State borrowing €36 billion since 2020

Táinaiste Leo Varadkar has said he “stands over” his decision to have Ireland borrow €36 billion since 2020, saying “it was the right thing to do,” and signalling his intention to raise carbon tax.

The remarks were made during an RTÉ One segment this week regarding the soaring budget deficit due to the covid lockdown.

“The truth is – and we have to be honest with people about this: we’ve borrowed thirty six thousand million euros since this pandemic began.

“I stand over it. It was the right thing to do. We had to do it. But that can’t go on forever, and parties that promise more spending, and abolishing taxes at the same time, are charlatans. Don’t listen to them.”

The Táinaiste was referring to Sinn Féin’s stance in opposition to Local Property Tax, which the government has announced will be extended to homes built after 2013. Now tens of thousands of people will face new tax bills as the government ends the “new home” exemption.

It was put to Varadkar that the deficit could be in the region of 5.7%, and he was asked if his government’s commitment to not raise income tax or USC still stood.

“It does,” he replied, saying that the deficit was not going to be as bad as the government had first assumed.

“We think the best way to close the deficit, and we do need to close it over a number of years, is to go for growth. That’s exactly what we’re doing with the plan today.

“Carbon tax, for example, is one that we support, ring fenced for climate action. That’s another one that Sinn Féin says they’re going to abolish and still find money somehow to invest in climate action. That’s one that we said we would increase for example.”

The new announcement comes despite, in March of 2021 earlier this year, the Táinaiste insisting that there would not be any tax increases for a few years at least after the covid-19 lockdown, before he was quickly corrected by Fine Gael Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe.

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