Budget 2021 'reckless' from Carlow-Kilkenny perspective, says South-east academic

'€270m is planned for 20 Higher Education building projects, it is unclear if any of these are in the South-east'

Sam Matthews

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Sam Matthews

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sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

Budget 2021

Budget 2021: Not a great budget for Kilkenny says South-east academic

A South-east based academic has heavily criticised Budget 2021, saying it is 'reckless' from a Carlow-Kilkenny perspective, and offers little clarity in terms of what investment this region can expect.

Dr Ray Griffin, lecturer in Strategy at Waterford IT who is one of the authors of the annual South East Economic Monitor report, says it is likely the South-east will not get a fair shake.

"This is a massively reckless budget in so many ways, reminiscent of the disastrous 1977 budget. It is a further step in the wrong direction as the Government focuses on accelerating regional inequity by investing a disproportionate amount of borrowed money in Dublin and Cork," says Dr Griffin.

"The Irish budgetary process is unusually opaque, all talk and no detail. So we have been told that an extra €4 billion is to be spent on the health service, but we have no visibility where. Based on previous evidence, it is likely that more than half of this will be spent in Dublin, where only 29% of Irish people live.

"Capital spending will hit €10bn this year, and again we have only heard of some titillating projects largely in Cork and Dublin. The South-east is 8.89% of this country’s population, we are certainly not going to get the €890m that would represent a fair share. My guess is that we will get less than €100m in this region."

One of the areas of concern is Higher Education. While a proposed establihsment date for the Technological University of the South East was recently announced, Dr Griffin says there is a lack of clarity on investment in this region.

"For example, €270m is planned for 20 Higher Education building projects, it is unclear if any of these are in the South-east, a region that has been promised additional higher education capacity. Next year the Department of Higher Education will spend €3.3bn, mostly in universities. €5.2bn will be spent at the Department of Housing, again with no visibility on whether the SE will get €462m," he says.

"All of the additional spending will be sourced from borrowing. With the singular exception of the misguided bank guarantee, no Minister for Finance in Ireland has ever spent so much money that he did not have, and it has been dumped into a series of parish pump projects.

"We have no idea how long the Covid-19 situation will continue, and deploying so much borrowed firepower upfront, on uncosted pork-barrel projects, largely in Minister’s constituencies is something Irish society will pay for in a grossly expanded national debt and blunted economic performance. I hope the Oireachtas exercises its duty of oversight on this imprudent and reckless venture."