Ireland has unveiled the harshest budget measures in its history, a four-year plan to slash deficits by €15 billion ($20 billion) so that it can receive a massive bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
The austerity plan axes thousands of state jobs, trims welfare benefits and pensions, and imposes new taxes on property and water. In all, it seeks to cut €10 billion from spending and raise €5 billion in extra taxes from 2011 to 2014.
Even Prime Minister Brian Cowen conceded onWednesday the plan would hurt the living standard of everyone in the nation. Analysts still expressed doubts that the €85-billion EU-IMF loan would be big enough to save Ireland from an eventual default.