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Financial Resolution No. 5: Excise (Continued)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty] The reality is that many people depend on their cars to get from A to B. I listened to what the Taoiseach said about the drop in income in terms of revenue. The statistics bear that out. We moved to a CO2 model post-2008 and car manufacturers have caught up with that to the extent that the majority of cars fall into the A and B grouping. The Government is continuing with the model. In effect, it has said to drivers to purchase low-emission cars and they will pay reduced taxation. Now the Government is saying that it is not taking in enough money and it wants people to pay more anyway, despite the fact that people might have sold a pre-2008 car that would have had a high CO2 output and invested in a new car in order to avail of low car tax. For many people who could afford to buy a new car, a driving issue was for them to be on band A or band B, yet the Government is coming back to sting them.

It is clear that the budget in its totality has been anti-family and anti-children. As the Taoiseach indicated, VRT goes up to approximately €90 for different classes of car. Parents with more than three children aged younger than 12 do not have the option of having a normal five-seater car. They must buy a seven-seater to comply with Irish law and safety standards. It is important that they do so. I do not oppose that. However, the reality is that families with more than three children are being hit hardest because they are forced to buy a larger car which means that they pay additional VRT because the car is more expensive in the first place, but also because those cars do not fall into the lower taxation A or B categories. The proposed increases will affect cars required by parents with larger families. It is another example of how the Government is affecting children and families in the budget.

There is no doubt that it is also a shake-down of motorists. It is another grab for money aimed at motorists. As someone from west Donegal, if I had the option of coming to Dublin by train or on Bus Éireann I would take it. People do not have the option in rural areas. Coming from a rural county the Taoiseach is aware of that. Dependency on cars is not something ingrained in the Irish psyche; it is a necessity. The increase will again come from the limited pot of money available to people. VRT is an unfair tax and we should aim to introduce a fairer system. With the free transport of goods and people in the European Union the Government introduced a tax for people to have a licence plate. People are paying thousands of euro to have their car registered. It is a way of circumventing European law.

VRT is a big issue in Border counties. I refer, for example, to people in Lifford who might work in Strabane and buy a car there but they have to pay an astronomical level of VRT just because they live across a bridge. They are in the same country but they live across a bridge and the Government stings them for that. Sinn Féin most definitely opposes both of those measures on motor taxation.

The Government wants to bring in €21 million from the changes to VAT affecting farmers in a full year. As the Taoiseach mentioned in his contribution, that affects non-registered farmers, who for VAT purposes are smaller farmers.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes That is not true. Bigger farmers are not registered for VAT either.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Members must speak through the Chair, please.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty In the majority of cases it will be smaller farmers who will fall into this category. I do not say it is small farmers exclusively. We can agree on that. A farmer who sells an animal for €100 is currently entitled to €5.20 on top of that under the VAT rules but the Government wants to reduce that to €4.80. It is not a fair tax. Let us be clear. The Government is bringing forward this resolution without hiding the fact that it will yield €21 million. Therefore, the question is where the €21 million will come from. It will come from the farming sector. I do not know what else will be included when we see the finer details on the various cuts in the agriculture sector but we know from the latest report on agricultural incomes that they have dropped. Such issues are important to farmers, in particular in areas such as the west and in Donegal which I represent and which has huge levels of disadvantaged land. A grab of €21 million is not something the Government should consider at this point. Many farmers will be keen to see what measures will be in place to help them in order that we can ensure food security throughout the world and that small farmers remain in business in the future. Sinn Féin will vote against the three measures.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I will be brief. As with many of the measures that are being introduced in the budget, and in the previous budget, the Taoiseach will try to provide a specific justification or rationale for particular tax increases. He will try to make them sound more palatable when in reality they are just further overwhelmingly regressive austerity measures that are being imposed on ordinary families. Families do not have different pots of money which are somehow separate and unconnected: one for cars, one for farm vehicles, another one for property taxes or cigarettes and a pint of beer at the weekend. They all come out of the same pot. All of the increases will disproportionately and regressively affect those who have the least. That is the reality of all such measures. Their combined effect will be to impoverish people who already have very little.

Those particular measures will disproportionately affect families, as so many others have. The more children one has, the harder one will be hit in a range of ways. The motor taxation measures are no exception in that regard. One will be punished just because one has more children and has to have a larger car to transport them. Just in case it would encourage people to use alternative forms of transport such as public transport, let us not forget that a significant number of people do not have access to public transport. Cuts have been made to existing public transport and there have been increases in bus and rail fares of between 14% and 19%.

People are being hit from the left, the right and the centre but all of the extra money must come out of the same pot. The increases are a slap in the face for people who bought vehicles with low emissions not just this year, but last year. The attempt to say the increases are stepped and that there are still incentives is all mar dhea. The Government has slapped in the face those who made an investment to try to comply with measures to encourage reduced CO2 emissions. We will oppose the resolutions.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Deputy Boyd Barrett opposes everything. He never supported anything in his life.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett On that point, your whipness, in response to what Deputy Sean Fleming said-----

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Deputy Richard “Oppose” Boyd Barrett.

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