Opposition parties have accused Fine Gael of losing control of the public finances after it emerged no money will be added to the rainy day fund this year.
At a briefing this evening Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he was moving forward with his plans to transfer €1.5bn from the State’s Strategic Investment Fund into the new Rainy Day Fund.
However, he said he was dropping his promise to top it up with €500m from the Exchequer this year.
He said it would make no sense to deposit the extra money with the ‘real material risk’ of a no-deal Brexit on the horizon.
Following the announcement, Labour Brendan Howlin said “the game is up” on the whole idea.
He said moving large amounts of money from one fund into the other is simply an attempt to “fool people into thinking this Government is prudent and camouflaging their lack of prudence in the way they managed expenditure on the children’s hospital, on broadband, on the Metro on so many other things.”
“But now the game is up and we realise that when we really are facing a challenge like Brexit, no money is to be put into this so-called rainy day fund.
He said the Government must now deploy the Strategic Investment Fund to protect Irish jobs – and called on Minister Donohoe to announce a major support package on Tuesday.
“If there is a hard Brexit, many companies will go through a very difficult patch,” he said.
“But if we can sustain them through that patch, I think many of those jobs can be sustained in the longer term.”
Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said the fund was “finished before it even started.”
Minister @Paschald today spoke to the media ahead of the publication of the White Paper in advance of #Budget2020. The White Paper will be published at midnight tonight on https://t.co/KYsdjXf82D pic.twitter.com/rvnY0abSoW
— Department of Finance (@IRLDeptFinance) October 4, 2019
Minister Donohoe has already warned that Budget 2020, due to be announced on Tuesday, will be prepared on the assumption of a no-deal Brexit.
He said the government White Paper in advance of Budget 2020 will confirm a surplus of €600m.
It will also warn that he needs to find an extra €450m to cover overspends in government departments like health. These supplementary estimates will be paid for through the greater than expected tax take and underspends at other departments.
Earlier Fianna Fáil said the Government had informed it that there will be less extra money to play with than it previously suggested.