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Taoiseach says government cannot chase inflation

The Taoiseach ruled out further measures to ease the cost of living for people before the next budget, saying the government’s preference is to introduce a ‘comprehensive’ package then.

Micheál Martin also denied that a plan has been introduced to make a Christmas bonus-type payment to welfare recipients in the coming weeks, saying ‘this has not been discussed by the government at all’ .

The next economic “milestone” will be the government’s summer economic statement, he said, which will indicate the level of resources available to ministers for the rest of the year and into next.

He said there would be meetings this week to discuss the summer economic statement.

The Taoiseach said the government aimed ‘to present a cost of living budget which will comprehensively address many of the issues people are facing at the moment’.

The 2023 budget is expected to be announced in October.

Saying the government recognized the “enormous pressures” on people, Mr Martin said the intention was for many budget interventions to take effect immediately once announced.

He said the government had already introduced relief measures worth around 2.4 billion euros since the last budget.

“The next budget should be the cost of living budget, but we need to identify what is available and also work on departmental spending profiles, because that’s also important in terms of how we deal with issues like childcare. children, how we deal with issues like housing, education, in terms of the cost of all of that to families.

When asked if he was ruling out other measures before the budget, he replied: “As I said, the government’s objective is to have an overall budget that deals with all of this.”

Whatever initiatives are introduced later in the year, they must be targeted, he said.

“Some of it will be temporary, to get people to get over the immediate situation, but I think to do that we have to do it in a wide range of areas and do it holistically and that’s the preference right now, to come up with a complete package, to not do something every month, because we can’t chase inflation like we did in the 1970s and then endure a decade of inflation, nobody gets away with it better.

“We have a full employment economy, we need to make sure we support that, as we ease the pressures on people, I think immediate implementation of fiscal measures will help in that regard.”

When it was pointed out to him that the budget is not for another three and a half months and that many people want help in the meantime, he said: “I think if the application of the measures is this year , I think that will help but, as I said, doing something month by month, because there will be pressures in September, October and November, as well, particularly in terms of heating homes and in terms of broader energy and food issues, so what we do has to be holistic and has to last for a meaningful period of time and help people over a period of time.”