Finance Bill

PaulConnaughton-2-150x150

Dáil Éireann 12 November 2013

 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this Bill.

 

Since the announcement of Budget 2014, I have been contacted by many people in East Galway in relation to the various provisions of the budget.  In particular I have been contacted by three groups, tradespeople, tourism and restaurant business owners and separated fathers and these are the issues I will concentrate on during this evening’s debate.

 

In recent weeks I have encountered many tradespeople who have welcomed the fact that this Government has finally taken action to level the playing field for tax compliant tradespeople by incentivising the employment of those whose tax affairs are in order by homeowners seeking to avail of the new home renovation incentive scheme.  Initially many of those tradespeople were worried that the timing of the introduction of the scheme could adversely affect their work in the final two months of this year, but that matter has since been addressed and those fears allayed in what I believe is yet another common sense and pro-business measure taken by this Government.

 

The initiative may also be the spur or incentive that some home owners need to get work carried out on their home and it is to be hoped that many people who formerly worked in the construction industry will benefit as a result of this measure.

 

We have to make doing business easier for small businesses, which are the life blood of economic life in Ireland and that’s why I also very much welcome the retention of the lower rate of VAT in the hospitality sector.  Small restaurant business owners in East Galway had expressed fear to me that a rise in the VAT rate would hamper their efforts to attract business in what remains a very difficult climate.  I believe that business owners recognise this Government’s unwavering efforts in terms of job creation and recognise that it is only through job creation that a stagnant economy can be brought back to life, one job can lift a family back to economic viability and that is why we have to continue in our efforts to support small businesses.

 

The catering sector is not the only sector affected by the decision in relation to VAT, hotel and tourism business owners have also welcomed that move and I look forward to seeing more tourists in the West of Ireland next year, especially given the abolition of the travel tax and the pledge that increased numbers of air passengers will be brought into Ireland as a result.  Tourism spend is badly needed in the West of Ireland and efforts such as this initiative on the travel tax must be applauded.

 

I also welcome the retention of the current rate of corporation tax and believe that it is important that the message is put out there in as forceful a manner as possible that this is an integral part of the Irish regime and is not something that is up for negotiation.

 

While many of the reactions I have received on a personal level to the budget have been positive, I was contacted in recent weeks by many separated fathers in the region who outlined to me exactly how the change to the tax credit system will impact on them.  The tax implications are very significant and I welcome Minister Noonan’s statement that situations will be examined where the primary carer does not have a tax liability and I believe that this may help the circumstances of many separated fathers.  However, many fathers will continue to be adversely affected as a result.

 

I believe that the issue raised by the controversy over the Single Parent Tax Credit is one that merits much greater investigation. Family break-up is a fact of life and this Government must ensure that proper provision is made for children.  In cases where parents live separately, there is an added cost of two properties to be maintained, in terms of property tax, lighting, heating etc. and the size of house provided by the secondary carer, the father in many cases, has to be sufficiently large as to accommodate the children when they do stay over.  I believe that further investigation is needed in terms of the burden that this is placing on separated families and we must look at measures needed to balance this, while simultaneously ensuring that families who live together are in no way disadvantaged and also that no financial obstacle is placed in the way of families wishing to reunite.

 

 

Borrowing €12 billion per annum to keep the country afloat is unsustainable, we have to progress to a more sustainable budgetary framework and I believe that that is what Budget 2014 achieves.  The deficit is lowered and all sections of government will have to reflect the new reality with leaner management and greater resourcefulness.  Had the focus been put on much leaner government during the years of the boom, spending would not have spiralled to the degree it had, but there is nothing to be gained from bemoaning decisions made in the past.

 

Although it does mark a milestone on the road to recovery, there will be no celebrations as the Troika exit the country on December 15th.  It is a welcome step, but one which fails to put money into the purses of householders all across the country.  We still have a long road to travel and Irish people will not rest until such time as unemployment levels are drastically reduced and young Irish people once again have the option of living and working in their own country.

 

Tough decisions had to be made as part of Budget 2014 and now those tough decisions will have to be implemented, but it is this Government’s intention that this work will get this country of ours off its knees and back standing on its own and create a situation where people can look to the future with confidence.