JIM POWER: Firms under pressure to boost pay and conditions

Chair Seamus Coffey and the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, the budget watchdog, testified before the Oversight Committee in the Oireachtas earlier this week. At the same time, the Government issued the November exchequer returns - its latest tax and spend figures for the month.

They showed it had a surplus of €1.9bn in the first 11 months of the year and is now on track to deliver the first budget surplus in over a decade.

However, there should be no accolades: It is wholly appropriate that a budget surplus should be delivered at a time when the economy is approaching full potential.

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