We stand at a crucial time in the destiny of our country as we approach the coming budget and much heralded 4 -year plan, our economic situation is critical, to say the least. But this week I would like to bring you back to reaction piece I penned in December ’02. I came across this a while ago while searching for something else, indeed I had forgotten about it but I was forcibly struck by the then prescience of it in terms of what has happened to our economy. I will set out briefly and objectively the context of that ’02 budget. The FF/PD government had come to power in 1997 with Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach and Charlie McCreevey as Minister for Finance. The country had taken off economically under the previous Fine Gael/Labour Coalition and continued to prosper under the new government. But during‘01/02 there was evidence of as slow-down but this was not publicly acknowledged and we were assured that it was all systems go in the run up to the June 02 general election – the spending pumps were primed to assure the nation of our continuing prosperity. The FF/PD government was duly re-elected but within a few months it became clear that matters fiscal were not in a happy state and that there would have be a stiff budget ( it pales compared to what is ahead of us now!). It is against this background that I wrote this reaction piece following that December budget. By the way, in the year that followed the government decided to re-boot the boom by way of a considerable array of tax incentives. They worked, there’s no doubting that but rather than being a short term stimulus they remained in place and fuelled the now infamous property bubble which became the all-mighty and eventually overwhelming orgy of construction-led economics.
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