"Brexit may have been in the first line but, as expected, this was a firmly Covid related budget in tone and measure. Despite better headline economic performance than most peer economies, the Minister for Finance did not dwell on this, as might have been expected, and instead focussed on the rise in unemployment and the need to spend more to address the pandemic damage. The increase in spending of €17bn is significant. To put in context this is more than annual PAYE returns or nearly three times annual excise tax receipts. Ensuring that the extra money is spent effectively and avoiding a sharp step up in the cost of public service delivery in future years will be challenges to face in the year ahead.
“In a Budget mostly about the ‘here and now’ there were a few hints about the future direction of the coalition Government. As the Minister spoke about a bridge to a better tomorrow, he referred to the Commission on Taxation on Welfare, a recognition of the need to think strategically about how to meet public sector costs and achieve long term aims through the tax system. There was also a paper on well-being indicators published, further reflecting the move away from headline growth as the measure of Ireland’s success. It was perhaps not surprising then that the GDP numbers did not feature more prominently in the speech."