Press Release

Minister for Health and Children – Statement on Budget

Following the publication of Budget 2004, Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children welcomed the additional allocation of €25 million for disability services. This brings the additional funding for disabilities services to €35 million for 2004 “The additional funding announced today, underlines the Government´s commitment to the provision of services to people with disabilities and their families”.

The Minister also welcomed the announcement that a programme of decentralisation will be put in place. “The new Health Service´s Executive (incorporating the National Hospital´s Office, the Primary, Community and Continuing Care Pillars and the Shared Services Centre) and the Health Information and Quality Authority will be located outside Dublin. I believe this decentralisation programme will have significant benefits for staff.

Commenting on the announcement of a €33.6 billion 5 year capital development programme. Over this period funding for capital projects in health will total €2.7 billion. “This funding will give greater certainty and allow for better project planning and substantially improve the country’s health infrastructure”.

Welcoming the additional 25c to the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes, the Minister said “In line with our public health policy, this increase is an important measure. I believe that an increase such as this will have an impact on the pattern of smoking, and particularly may discourage young people from taking up smoking”.

“This Budget provides substantial additional funds for those most in need. The improvements in social welfare payments come to an additional €630 million in a full year, €100 million more than last year. The social welfare increases announced today are well ahead of the rates of inflation. As Minister for Health I would particularly welcome the increase in the old age pension”.

“This Budget reflects the Government´s sound management of the economy, good fiscal policies will create the conditions necessary for our economy to be strongly positioned to benefit from future economic recovery, maintain and create employment and increase wealth”.