Tánaiste defends Government's handling of economy

A draft EC report says spending was being funded by extra but "volatile" tax receipts

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The Tánaiste is defending the Coalition's handling of the economy - despite a serious rap on the knuckles from Europe.

A leaked draft of the European Commission's assessment of the budget, seen by the Irish Examiner, describes it as political and putting the recovery at risk.

It highlights how extra spending was being funded by extra but "volatile" tax receipts, although adds it was "broadly compliant" with EU rules.

The report further suggests the budget “could have been more supportive of growth” and spending “could have been better targeted”.

Amid questioning in the Dáil, the Tánaiste insisted the Coalition was being prudent

Joan Burton asked the Opposition, "can you not actually celebrate the fact that people and businesses are going back to work?"

She also pointed out that the rate of the Universal Social Charge is coming down for people on incomes between €25,000 and €70,000, adding "what's irresponsible about that?":

The Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said it is not the Government's plan to scrap USC for all workers.

Minister Noonan says that charges will remain for higher earners so that they do not get the full benefit of scrapping it.