Michael Noonan has done the people a service. He has begun the process of rolling back the years of crushing austerity.
In a number of areas, Mr. Noonan and his team have taken important steps that sets the Government in a new direction.
In the area of pensions, confirmation that the Government will end the .6% levy is more than welcome. The introduction of the levy a number of years ago sent the wrong message to those who heeded Government calls to plan for retirement. Many complained that the levy was a penalty for being prudent; they had a point. Today, Mr. Noonan and his team have done the right thing by ending that punitive levy.
On DIRT, the decision to be imaginative is welcome. First time buyers always need assistance and the punitive 41% DIRT on what little income they were earning was sapping, today’s announcement ensures that prudent savers preparing to buy a home are helped instead of hindered.
Other measures announced by Mr. Noonan and his team are also positive, including changes to USC, water charges relief and reduction of the 41% tax rate to 40% means that while this is not a giveaway budget, it is not a takeaway one either.
Overall, it is the direction of this Budget that matters. After such a prolonged period of austerity that sapped the finances of families up and down the country, the beginning of the end of crisis in the State finances is finally emerging.
Mr. Noonan and his team may not be the most popular guests at the Christmas party, but beginning this year, it appears that they will again make the guest list and that is a big improvement!