IMF budgetary advice
A NEW culture of convenience has emerged in Irish politics with the coming of the IMF.
As one of the troika paymasters, the IMF regularly flexes its political muscle and calls the tune.
In its latest review of the Irish economy, the agency proposes means-testing child-benefit payments and cutting the cost of medical cards….
The approach is part of a well-established pattern whereby the IMF advises government to take on issues unpopular with influential power blocs. This goes to the heart of a question that people have been asking for some time — who governs Ireland?
The strategy of using the rescue agency as a stalking horse effectively enables the coalition to address matters which have more or less been ruled out of court in Irish politics. But as the public just witnessed, politicians can now conveniently blame the IMF for suggesting that the government take action on thorny subjects….
As a result, party members have been freed to talk openly about cuts in areas where the axe has long been taboo. Ironically, the tactic also facilitates government ministers in assuming the role of would-be defenders of the beleaguered taxpayer.…
While Fine Gael and Labour wear the trappings of government, it is the IMF that calls the shots. In obeying its edicts, the coalition must guard against throwing the baby out with the bath water.…
The danger is that couples with young families, many struggling to pay mortgages, or pensioners finding it hard to put food on the table, will also be caught in a poverty trap if the bar is set too low. The government should be wary of getting the IMF to do its dirty work. Above all, it must not abdicate its responsibility to govern. — (July 20)