Over the last twenty months, we have taken decisive and bold action to bring this country back from the brink of economic and financial ruin. The latest of these measures were contained in last December's budget. We made savings of €4 billion through cuts in public sector pay, an average 4% reduction in welfare payments, and through controlling expenditure in all areas of Government.
These measures have stabilised our public finances and greatly increased international investor confidence in our ability to work our way out of this most difficult of economic crises. The benefits are there for all to see. Take a look at this:
This graph shows the cost of borrowing for Ireland and Greece. The cost of repaying our debt has fallen because the government has made the difficult but correct choices.
If Ireland had gone the way of Greece, we could have expected to pay €3.6 billion more in interest over the next 10 years on the money we have had to borrow this year: dead money that we can now divert to much needed public services.
Internationally, we are now held up as an example of a country that is facing up to its economic difficulties and taking the necessary action. Now that we have begun to stabilise our public finances, we can take the necessary measures to return to economic growth and to create and protect jobs.
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In their measured reaction to a very difficult and painful budget, the citizens of this country have shown they are willing to make sacrifices in the short term for the long term good of all. This maturity and understanding of the economic difficulties we face is the envy of other countries in Europe. Our flexibility and our foresight will be of enormous value to us as we continue to enact our plan for economic recovery.
Thank you for supporting us,
Brian Lenihan T.D.
Minister for Finance