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Minister warns Ireland could face 'prolonged period' of inflation

The Minister for Public Expenditure has warned that Ireland could face a 'prolonged period of high inflation'.

Speaking in the Dáil during Leader's Questions Michael McGrath said: “We think it (inflation) will peak in the short number of months ahead, but we cannot be certain of that.

“Monetary policy is changing internationally as well and the global economic outlook is deteriorating," he said.

It comes as the Minister indicated that the Government is set to target tax cuts for middle income earners in October’s budget.

He hinted that plans are underway to introduce a new tax bracket as part of the budget plans.

He told the Dail that there will be a set of tax measures that will see a reduction in income tax for people who earn “modest levels” of income.

Mr McGrath said: “It is important that we, as well as addressing the cost of living measures through expenditure, do have a tax package in the budget.

“We have a Programme for Government commitment that we will honour, because what we don’t want is a situation where the constituent that you highlighted, ends up getting a pay rise or does some overtime, and then is paying half of that in tax because he’s crept into the marginal rate of income tax.

“If you have a static tax system at a time of rising incomes, that is equivalent to an increase in tax and it seems to be only on this side of the House that there is support for (a) reduction (in) income tax for people who are earning quite modest levels of income, in the mid-30s in terms of thousands.

Target resources

“I’ve acknowledged it, and we are going to make an intervention in the normal annual budget. We will also be focused on a set of measures that could kick in as quickly as possible, that will be temporary and one-off in nature.

“The advice that we have received from all the main bodies is to target resources, insofar as we can, to those who need it most and work is now actively underway on preparing that.”

He made the comments in response to Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick who told of how a constituent, a young father-of-two, could not afford to feed his family because of the rise in the cost of living.

“I am not going to say that the Government has done nothing, but I’m going to say that the Government needs to do more,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.

“In my consistency office in Dundalk, I listened to my constituents, and what is happening on the ground.

“People can’t afford to put food on the table, heat their homes, fuel their cars, put shoes on their children.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald again called on the Government to bring in an emergency budget before the summer recess. (Sam Boal/PA), © PA Wire/PA Images

“Afraid to put on the cooker and washing machine, panicking they won’t be able to buy books or uniforms for their children.

“A young married man with two children came to my office last Friday, crying as he can’t afford to look after his family.

“He goes to work in Dublin every day, five days a week. The fuel price has doubled and he can’t cope anymore. The word he used was enormous pressure.”

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald again called on the Government to bring in an emergency budget before the summer recess.

She told Mr McGrath that struggling families cannot wait until October.

“There are people who are literally only one bill away from going over the edge, one rent payment away from going under,” Ms McDonald said.

“People who work very long hours and who can’t afford the basics. This is the hard reality of people’s lives and despite everything that you might say, Minister, clearly your Government doesn’t get it.

“In fact, it is incredible to hear the Government congratulate itself over and over for having done so much when clearly so much more needs to be done.

“Minister, children as you know head back to school in late August, early September, not October, and those families face astronomical costs now.

“Energy companies aren’t going to give customers a break between now and October.

“Rip-off electricity bills will keep coming through the summer months, people go to fill their cars every week between now and October and by the way, they’re paying more than two euros a litre today.

“This is all happening now.

“So asking people to wait until October for help is asking them to wait for disaster. An emergency budget is a sensible and necessary response at this time.”

The Government is to publish its summer economic statement next week, and the mid-year Exchequer position, which Mr McGrath said will set out the resources available to Government.

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