Ministers have been ordered to identify potential spending cuts worth €10½ billion from their departmental budgets, including reductions in staff numbers and social welfare in a three-year plan being prepared on foot of demands from the EU and IMF.
And Government departments have been instructed not to hold back from coming up with ways to reduce the number of workers in their area: departments should “put forward options for achieving reductions in staff numbers.”
Although the Government is due to reduce expenditure by €2.1 billion next year, departments are being asked to come up with a menu of cuts five times as big. Cuts that are not implemented in the December 2012 budget are expected to feed into reductions to be brought in over the following three years. Next year’s budget will contain a package of €3.6 billion in tax increases and spending cuts: €1.5 billion in tax and €2.1 billion in cuts.
And the minister for public expenditure and reform, Brendan Howlin (Labour Party), has complained that some of his colleagues were not pulling their weight in coming up with cuts!