Today, at a press conference in Dublin, People Before Profit & Solidarity launched their Pre-Budget Submission which sets out to provide an alternative vision for Ireland.
The Pre-Budget statement is designed to widen the debate about the available socio-economic choices beyond the parameters of the so-called ‘fiscal space’.
Budgetary decision making is currently being framed within the extremely narrow set of parameters of the fiscal space which serves to hide the enormous and growing inequality in the distribution of wealth in our society. We reject these narrow parameters entirely.
People Before Profit believe in a different Europe and a different Ireland. It is possible to dramatically increase the provision of public services and increase incomes for ordinary people through a radical policy of redistributing the enormous and increasing profits of big corporations and the wealth of the richest in our society.
The key policy measures that People Before Profit & Solidarity are proposing are:
· SOLVE THE HOUSING CRISIS. 40, 000 social and affordable homes could be provided next year – paving the way to eliminate housing waiting lists and end the housing crisis within five years.
· DEVELOP A NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE. To reinvigorate our failing healthcare system Solidarity-People Before Profit would hire thousands of staff including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and psychiatrists. In addition, we would start the development of a one-tiered National Health Service free at the point of use and paid for through progressive taxation. Immediately, this could mean free GP care for all next year. It would also mean a new focus on mental health provision.
· INVEST IN EDUCATION AND SCRAP ALL FEES. To encourage lifelong learning, Solidarity- People Before Profit would reduce the pupil teacher ratios in our schools and make education free for everyone one who wants to avail of it throughout their lives.
· TRIPLE INVESTMENT AND HALVE FARES IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT. To aid the fight against climate change, Ireland should target zero net emissions by 2035. Instead of cutting and privatising public transport, we need to invest in quality public transport and make it accessible and convenient for everyone in our society.
· FREE PUBLIC CHILDCARE FOR ALL. Ireland has failed abysmally when it comes to child care. Solidarity-People Before Profit would invest €2.5 billion in a national child care system to work alongside the national school system.
· TAX JUSTICE. Solidarity-People Before Profit believe in a shift in the burden of tax to those who can afford it on a progressive basis. We believe in taxing wealth- corporations and the very wealthy in order to provide sustainable services for everyone in our society.
· QUALITY JOBS AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMY. There would be quality jobs, with fair rates of pay and conditions and with Trade Union recognition for everyone who wishes to be in a Union. To create a sustainable and dynamic economy we would directly provide tens of thousands of jobs in housing construction, health, childcare, education, arts and the green economy.
Speaking about the Pre-Budget submission and the measures included, Richard Boyd Barrett TD said:
“We emphatically reject the attempt to narrow the Budget discussion to how we divide up a few miserable crumbs of the fiscal space.
“The hidden secret of the Irish economic story is that while housing, health and public services have been starved of resources and the real value of workers incomes have been slashed, there has been a spectacular increase in corporate profits and the wealth of the very richest in Irish society.
“If fair taxes are levied on this enormous concentration of profits and wealth it could release billions to deal with the housing emergency, the crisis in health, for investment in education, public transport, renewable energy and more as well as increasing incomes for workers and the less well off.
“This is the debate that has started to happen with Corbyn in the UK, Sanders in the US and Melenchon in France. It is high time that we started to have that debate here.”
Paul Murphy TD said:
“The housing and homelessness crisis epitomises the reality of crises in people’s lives that continue to worsen despite official statistical growth. That is because it is rooted in an extreme growth of inequality. Gross profits for corporations have doubled from 2011 to 2015 from €75 billion to €150 billion. The wealth of the richest 300 people has also doubled from €50 billion in 2010 to over €100 billion now. The Solidarity – People Before Profit budget statement sets out how this inequality is a political choice and an alternative choice can be made.
“The Apple Tax scandal exposes the strategic choice at the centre of the political establishment’s approach – for Ireland to operate as an Atlantic Tax Haven. It is a strategy that has never worked from the point of view of a sustainable development of the economy from the point of view of the majority, and one which has passed its sell-by date – given the Apple Tax case, Brexit and Trump’s move to lower corporation tax. An alternative industrial policy is needed – based on socialist policies of public investment and democratic public ownership.
“The tax proposals we make are designed to demonstrate how the wealth currently exists in our society to transform people’s lives. They are to tax corporations, tax the wealthy and landlords and tax justice for workers.”