Equity and fairplay are paramount

WITH the new property charge of 100 euros per household, people are being asked once again to do their duty. The imperative of getting the country back into some sort of financial shape is the constant clarion call these days to already beleagured taxpayers who are overburdened in terms of what they have to stump up across a whole range of charges.

WITH the new property charge of 100 euros per household, people are being asked once again to do their duty. The imperative of getting the country back into some sort of financial shape is the constant clarion call these days to already beleagured taxpayers who are overburdened in terms of what they have to stump up across a whole range of charges.

And this is just the start. The December budget will dominate the autumn and it will contain tough and unpopular measures. The 100 euros household charge paves the way for property and water taxes. Finance Minister Michael Noonan appears resolute in his determination to meet the terms of the EU-IMF bailout, requiring the budget deficit to be reduced to 8.6 per cent in 2012.

This will be done with a great deal of difficulty and pain. The coming months will see reviews of all programmes and spending across every Department to shave off 4 billion of government spending next year, with a further 5 billion over the following two years. The age of austerity is here to stay for some time, and this recovery programme poses some very serious challenges.

Preparing a fair and equitable budget is paramount but very difficult. The public is now being hit on all fronts, with some of the problems facing individual families seemingly insurmountable.

Also people are being asked to accept these measures, despite much waste and inefficiencies remaining in the system. New taxes and cuts should be preceded by at least the promise of reform in such key areas as local government and the whole raft of quangos which remain in place, months after this government took office.

Reform of our government system, in particular in areas such as local authorities offer real opportunities for savings, and are a good alternative to the option of taxing and retaxing the same people. Similarly, social welfare reform should not be off the table. It needs to be reconsidered, because here like everywhere else there are inefficiences and waste.

It is hard and downright unfair to expect taxpayers to keep shouldering the burden of all these new charges and cuts when all around there are examples of how the State has not yet got its act together. Radical and long term reform is needed, instead of rubbing peoples nose in it.

Finally, it is long overdue that something was done about the perpetrators of the economic and banking mess.

Justice needs to be seen to be done, and soon instead of the incessant gringdings of a seemingly lethargic and ineffective legal process.