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Ireland Unveils Tough Four-Year Recovery Plan

Prime Minister Brian Cowen

Prime Minister Brian Cowen

The Irish government has presented a four-year austerity plan outlining 15 billion euros ($20 billion) of savings, a key step toward securing an international bailout.

"I am confident that the talent and will and ability of our own people are going to make this a reality for us as a people," Prime Minister Brian Cowen said in presenting the plan to parliament.

"I am confident of that and I am hopeful for the future that this plan is another confidence-building measure, another signpost along the road towards national recovery."

The plan proposes to introduce property and water taxes, raise sales tax from 21 percent to 22 percent in 2013 and up to 23 percent in 2014, cut the minimum wage, and cut more than 24,000 state jobs.

It also plans to achieve savings in social-welfare spending of 2.8 billion euros ($3.7 billion), and raise an additional 1.9 billion euros ($2.5 billion) from income tax.

The plan comes as the government negotiates an economic bailout package with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, reportedly worth some 85 billion euros ($113 billion).

compiled from agency reports