Europe

Irish finance bill published

Brian Lenihan
Image caption Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan with the Finance Bill

The Irish government published its controversial Finance Bill on Friday, amid growing calls for Prime Minister Brian Cowen to step down.

If passed the document will put into law measures announced in the December 2010 budget.

It includes changes to tax rates and the introduction of the Universal Social Charge.

Mr Cowen said passing the bill is paramount to securing a bail-out from the EU and International Monetary Fund.

On Thursday the Fianna Fail leader announced a general election would take place on 11 March, and reiterated passing the Finance Bill was the government's main concern ahead of that date.

He will need the support of his Green Party coalition partners and independent TD's in order to pass the legislation, which sets in place a framework for a four-year plan to slash government spending and increase taxes.

However, the tensions between the Green Party and Mr Cowen remain fraught after the junior government party blocked an attempt by Mr Cowen to re-shuffle the cabinet on Thursday.

Election

The Labour Party is due to table a motion of no-confidence in the government next Tuesday and leader Eamon Gilmore said he wants to see the election moved forward.

Mr Cowen today said he is "confident" his government will win the no-confidence vote and plans to press head with the Finance Bill.

The Sunday Tribune's Political Editor, Shane Coleman, said he believes the legislation will be passed despite politically instability.

He said: "The government says the main concern is the Finance Bill and I think the Greens will stand by it. They would lose credibility if they turned around and changed their position now.

"All of the Fianna Fail TDs will vote for it as will the Greens and the independents, Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae.

"The reality is if it is not passed then the next government will have to push it through".

According to RTE the bill includes plans to curtail tax relief for student charges and fees. There will be no tax relief on the first 2,000 euros of charges for full time students, the first 1,000 euros for part time students.

And there is also a clamp down on business tax loopholes, such as a ban interest tax relief on intra company purchases.

Self employed income tax and capital gains tax will be payable in September, not October - but tax can be paid by credit card.

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