UPDATE 1-Main Irish opposition says will not back budget

* Fine Gael leader says wants to force early election

* Says broadly agrees with government budgetary targets

* Says wld cut 10 pct of public sector workforce

(Adds quotes, background)

DUBLIN, Nov 7 (BestGrowthStock) – Ireland’s main opposition party
said on Sunday it will not back next month’s budget, further
limiting the shaky coalition’s chances of getting harsh
austerity cuts past a slim parliamentary majority.

The government will step up its austerity drive by unveiling
6 billion euros ($8.42 billion) in spending cuts and tax hikes
in the toughest budget on record on Dec. 7 but with a buffer of
just three seats, it needs 80 of the government’s 82 MPs to back
the plan.

With two government-supporting independents listing demands
for support, the six junior coalition Green Party MPs fighting
savings in education and senior party MPs warning over pension
cuts, the government faces a tough task in framing the budget.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who likely will lead the next
government with parliamentary elections possibly just months
away, ended any remote hope of his party throwing its weight
behind the measures.

“No, I’m not and I’ll tell you why. I have no faith in this
government,” Kenny told national broadcaster RTE when asked
whether he would vote in favour of the budget if the government
could not get it through a parliamentary vote.

“This government have no credibility left and somebody needs
a new mandate. If the government are as confident as they say
they are about their budget, then they could have an election
before then.”


A parliamentary election would be called if the budget
failed in December, meaning the overwhelming favourites to form
the next coalition, Fine Gael and the Labour party, would have
to draw up a fresh version early next year.

Unlike Labour, Kenny said he broadly agreed with next year’s
6-billion-euro figure and the four-year aimed adjustment of 15
billion and that Fine Gael would look to rely on spending cuts
rather than tax increases to slim Ireland’s budget deficit.

Labour’s finance spokeswoman said last week she would favour
4.5 billion euros of savings next year while the party has not
yet put a figure on its overall target. It also advocates
splitting savings evenly between tax and expenditure.

Kenny also unveiled a plan on Sunday to cut 10 percent of
public sector employees, almost double the reductions envisaged
by the current administration and likely to be another thorny
issue to be negotiated with centre-left Labour.

The government gradually is implementing cuts brought
forward by an official commission last year that would reduce
Ireland’s then near 320,000-strong public service by just over 5
percent and have promised no further pay cuts in return.

Fine Gael said it would not force public servants to swallow
any more pay cuts after already being hit with between 5 and 15
percent reductions but unlike the government, it would not rule
out involuntary redundancies, the party’s finance spokesman told
Reuters last month. [ID:nDUB003269]

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Michael Roddy)

UPDATE 1-Main Irish opposition says will not back budget