“It’s over, c’est fini” was what Enda Kenny said yesterday. Nice touch that French bit, eh? Like Humphrey Bogart saying “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid” or “We’ll always have Paris”. Ah yes, Paris. That's where Monsieur Sarkozy lives, and Enda was talking about his petit spat with Monsieur Sarkozy over the south’s corporation tax. Nicolas wanted it raised but Enda wasn't having any. ‘C’est fini’ Enda told him, and you can't get much more final than that. And to show how final it is, Enda's government has just agreed to “engage constructively” in discussions on proposals to introduce a common consolidated corporate tax rate in Europe. As Brian Friel says in one of his plays “It’s all over and it’s all just beginning”.
But hey, that’s for the future. This is a happy day. Apart from the fini thing, the south's Minister of Finance Michael Noonan went to Europe looking for a 1% reduction in the south’s repayment interest rate and blimey, here's he’s back today with not 1% but 2%! No small potatoes that – it means, according to Enda's government, a saving to the Irish taxpayer of €600 million a year. Whew.
Good news or what? The bad news unfortunately is that according to the south’s own Department of Finance, the south’s General Government Gross debt last year was just over €148 billion. This year it’ll probably be around €173 billion, and by 2015 it’ll be rattling along at a little over €203 billion. But look, Departments of Finance are gloomy buggers. Always making with the beal bocht. So let’s halve it – let’s say this year’s debt is only €86 billion, and in 2015 it’ll be only €100 billion... What’s that?...It still makes a saving of €600 million a year look small potatoes? Well, talk about gratitude. Poor Michael working his chubby fingers to the bone, and just because he’s only managed to save about 1% of the state’s debt, leaving 99% still staring cuts-weary citizens in the bloodshot eye, you say at this rate the debt can’t be paid! Defeatist talk, man. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give us another seventy-five years and we’ll have this problem licked, LICKED, I’m telling you. When we say 'fini', we mean 'fini'. Give or take a century.