Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that the Universal Social Charge (USC) cannot be abolished.
On Newstalk’s Breakfast show, Mr Donohoe denied that the charge had been introduced as a temporary measure.
“I never said it was temporary. It was the integration of two levies. The USC will remain an important part of our tax system”. The charge could not be removed, if that was done it would have to be explained where else to generate the money it collects every year, he added.
The Minister also defended the measures introduced to address increases in the cost of living particularly the universal energy rebate. It would bring support quickly to those who needed it most.
“These measures will help families. We are using this money to respond to the real challenges people are facing.” The Government had been determined to get the balance right, he said.
Mr Donohoe acknowledged that there were some who had experienced wage growth, but the majority of the measures were geared towards those who needed the most help.
“The style of the social welfare system is that it is geared to help those who need it most.”
The 20 per cent cut in fares on public transport was a significant measure, he said. The rationale behind the measure was to make a difference, but for it to also be sustainable.
“This is a reduction of a fifth, it will be executed well and it will make a difference to those who use public transport.”
The Government recognised that the measures would not meet everyone’s needs or would solve all the financial problems people were facing, he said.
Earlier on Morning Ireland, Dermot O’Leary of the National Rail and Bus workers Union (NRBU) had expressed concern that the 20 per cent reduction in public transport fares would have an impact on wages of his members.
Mr McGrath said that the 20 per cent reduction in fares was an important initiative, and moved to reassure the NRBU that it would not be at the expense of workers, it would come from additional funding.