Irish Cabinet considers $4B more cuts for 2011

July 21, 2010 7:25:21 AM PDT
Prime Minister Brian Cowen has gathered his Cabinet to decide how to slash another euro3 billion ($4 billion) from Ireland's deficit, the worst in the 16-nation eurozone.

Wednesday's meeting to agree on 2011 tax hikes and spending cuts comes on the heels of three emergency budgets that already have slashed euro7.5 billion from the nation's bottom line.

Ireland has battled a soaring deficit since 2008, when its banking- and property-dependent economy fell into deep recession. Unemployment has tripled to 13.4 percent and tax collections have plunged.

A multi-billion bank bailout program means Ireland's deficit this year could rise to 20 percent. Cowen is trying to reverse the deficit to just 3 percent by 2014, but economists warn sterner cuts might be required.