Opening Bell: Fiscal Council questions spending plans, the ECB meets, Irish pension gap widens

Get up to speed with today's breaking Irish and international business news

Ireland's Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has warned that it believes that the Government's plans for Budget 2017 will push spending to the limit of what it considers to be prudent.

Its pre-budget statement believes that the total adjustment will amount to €2.4bn when all spending commitments are accounted for - that's over twice the €1bn increase that Michal Noonan said the Government would commit to.

"The council assesses that the resulting fiscal stance is at the limit of the range of prudent policies when the risks facing the economy and the high level of debt are considered," the statement read.

"Any further relaxation of the fiscal stance in 2016 or 2017 beyond the current plans would not be appropriate given the strong pace of underlying economic activity, falling unemployment and the need to bolster the resilience of the public finances to adverse shocks," it continued.

______________________________________________________

The European Central Bank's governing council faces a balancing act today as it meets in Frankfurt.

A growth continues to lag, attention will turn to whether the bank alters its €80bn per month quantitative easing programme. It may commit to the policy beyond the current time frame which plans to wind down bond buying in spring of next year.

The eurozone's interest rates are expected to remain at their historic lows.

ECB staff will also present their latest quarterly economic outlook.

______________________________________________________

Ireland's pension gap is the second largest in Europe according to a new survey.

It means the country's pot of savings will not go far enough to fund our retirement.

The Mind the Gap study by Aviva Insurance has found we need to save an additional €28bn euro a year in order to provide an adequate standard of living in our old age.

The report says that the current generation of retirees who are due to reach retirement age between 2017 and 2057 will have to save an additional €12,200 (€1,017 per month) extra.

______________________________________________________

A two day Dublin Bus strike began at midnight with more than 400,000 commuters expected to be affected.

Drivers have been picketing at bus depots across Dublin since 5:00.

Gardaí are reminding people that you can't drive in the bus lanes this morning even if they're empty.