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Green Party pushes for ‘wellbeing indicators’ to determine economic decisions

Factors such as public and mental health, child poverty and environmental issues would be at the fore of budgetary decisions.

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Neasa Hourigan alongside Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (Caroline Quinn/PA)

Neasa Hourigan alongside Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (Caroline Quinn/PA)

Neasa Hourigan alongside Green Party leader Eamon Ryan (Caroline Quinn/PA)

The Green Party has launched a paper advocating the use of “wellbeing indicators” over GDP in economic decision-making.

This would take factors such as public health, mental health, child poverty and environmental issues into account when it comes to budgetary decision-making.

The party finance spokeswoman Neasa Hourigan said the traditional barometer for economic spending of gross domestic product (GDP) was unreliable in Ireland because of high levels of foreign direct investment.

Ireland would follow in the footsteps of Germany, Iceland and New Zealand in moving to such a model.

Ms Hourigan said: “I think there’s always an argument to say that Government’s run on the five-year term, and there’s a problem with long-term planning. We’re not the only country who has this problem.

“When you see Germany questioning their GDP as their method for making decisions, you know there is some serious sea change happening across Europe and across the world.

“This is about long-term planning. This could be painted as quite fluffy, but actually it’s about money. Who gets it, how long they get it for and why they get it.

“I think what you’ll see emerging from this is recommendations like, for example, multi-annual budgeting.

“We see that in the disability community, we see than in health. Whatever organisation is providing services, they need to know that money is coming year on year on year.”

The paper is being backed by the Green Party’s coalition partners Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, which have done their own work in the area.

“It’s in the programme for Government. Fine Gael, I believe, have done a bit of work on this themselves,” Ms Hourigan said.

“The Department of Expenditure is doing work on this. The OECD is very pro this approach and has been encouraging countries to take this up.”

She added: “This is much more about consulting with the public that you’re meant to serve about how their economy works.”

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