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[euro]240M OF PENSION LEVY CASH UNUSED; Jobs Initiative fund not spent.

Byline: DAVID COLEMAN

NEARLY a quarter of a billion euro raised by the pension levy remains unspent, it emerged yesterday.

The 0.6% tax was imposed to finance a massive jobs initiative but up to [euro]240million is lying idle.

The figures were revealed after a parliamentary question by Fianna Fail's finance spokesman Michael McGrath.

The levy raised [euro]1.9billion and was used to cut restaurant and hospitality VAT rates from 13.5% to 9% and reduce PRSI rates on low-paying jobs.

But despite pledges to also pump the money into scrapping the [euro]3 air travel tax, the cash haul remains in Government coffers.

Mr McGrath slammed the huge underspend and called for transparency in detailing how it was used.

He said: "In May 2011, the Government announced a 0.6% levy on private pension funds would be applied to fund the so-called Jobs Initiative.

"The levy was to be collected for four years starting in 2011 and the proceeds were to be ring-fenced to fund the measures in the scheme.

"The imposition of the levy resulted in the pension benefits being cut for thousands of existing pensioners and the same fate awaits thousands more who have yet to reach pension age.

"The unprecedented raid of private pension savings was justified by on the basis that all the money would go towards the Jobs Initiative. In response to a recent parliamentary question I submitted, the numbers provided by Finance Minister Michael Noonan indicated [euro]240million of the proceeds of the levy were not spent on jobs.

"Department officials are now acknowledging this. This is simply not good enough.

"The Government needs to provide a full account of how the pension levy proceeds have been used.

"I am calling on the Minister for Finance to make a detailed statement accounting for how the [euro]1.9billion pension levy has been used by government.

"Given that the Government has broken its word on how the levy was to be used, all those affected by the levy will now want the minister to confirm that the levy will end in 2014 as originally pledged."

The Government needs to provide a detailed statement on how levy was used MICHAEL MCGRATH IN THE DAIL YESTERDAY
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 1, 2013
Words:372
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