Commenting on yesterday’s better than expected exchequer returns for 2012, SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, has called on the Government to seize the initiative and follow through with a major jobs stimulus programme and to bring forward tax changes entailing a proper contribution from the better off. “There are some positive signals but they will amount to little more than another false dawn unless the Government seizes the initiative and launches a major job stimulus programme. It must also implement measures to secure some kind of a contribution from the better off in 2013.  Cutting unemployment, not jobs and welfare, is the way forward” he said. “The €2.25bn infrastructure programme announced last July should be trebled to at least €7bn over 3 years. Each €1bn invested in infrastructure would create upwards of 10,000 jobs.  With our improved credit rating we can be much more ambitious now.  The Government has the capacity to put together a programme funded by a combination of the National Pensions Reserve Fund, monies incentivised from the private pension funds, recycled profits of the state companies and loans from the European Investment Bank, which could generate three times the jobs originally envisaged. “In parallel with this, the scope for people to draw down AVC savings envisaged in the budget should be radically expanded with full tax relief to support investment in economically sustainable projects such as retrofitting and home improvements. “Simultaneously, we are calling for changes to be included in the Finance Bill to ensure the better off are forced to contribute something thus alleviating the pressure on low to middle income families.  A good start could be made by implementing this year the abolition of tax relief on pension contributions for high earners, which was announced in the budget, instead of delaying it until 2014.  By making it effective from 1st July the Government could raise €125m which could be used to alleviate the impact of cuts on lower to middle income families.”