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Finance Bill 2014

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Deputy Willie Penrose

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Snippet Contents:

I propose to share time with Deputies Sean Kenny and Brendan Ryan.
I welcome the opportunity to make a contribution to the debate on the Finance Bill which implements many of the measures announced in the budget. A number of measures must be welcomed. As someone who advocated strongly at all levels for a return of the Christmas bonus to social welfare recipients, I am glad that a start has been made in that regard. Some 25% of the money is to be returned this year and I hope a further 25% will be returned next year to assist people on fixed incomes at a time of year when they face significant additional demands and pressures. Likewise, the living alone allowance has not been increased for many years. Efforts must be made to increase it on a regular basis. People living alone must purchase everything; there is no sharing of costs and they find themselves in challenging situations. It is time to reward all citizens, including those on fixed incomes and those who work hard and were subject to unrelenting cutbacks and reductions in the past six years. They made extraordinary sacrifices to rescue the country and must see some of the benefits that will accrue in the coming years. I hope some of the tax adjustments and alleviating measures provided for in the Bill will be felt by these taxpayers when they start to receive their wage packets in January. It should be the commencement of a sustained restoration.
We need a fair, efficient, effective and competitive tax system that rewards enterprise and contributes to economic growth and job creation. The securing of a properly paid job is the best route out of poverty. Tackling the scourge of unemployment must remain the number one priority. While progress has been made, it is not uniform and in many areas of the country there are significant pockets of unemployed persons, especially in rural areas, who are not feeling the fruits of the recovery and must not be left out. Everyone is entitled to a fair shake.
The State agencies, including IDA Ireland, seem to focus on the major towns and cities. We cannot compel foreign enterprise owners or entrepreneurs to locate in an identified area. However, it seems that, unless there is a seat of learning, a college or third level education infrastructure of some description in a town, the chances of encouraging IDA Ireland companies to locate are remote. I appeal to IDA Ireland to redouble its efforts in Mullingar. We have the facilities, including an excellently appointed park of over 20 acres. We are glad to see a local entrepreneur building on it. It is important to continue to focus on this issue and I call on IDA Ireland to do so with greater vigour. In this context, I welcome the setting up of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland. The idea was developed and promulgated by me on behalf of the Labour Party when I was its spokesperson on enterprise and employment. It focused on a strategic investment bank, which is a bigger idea, but the allocation of €800 million in funding for Irish SMEs will be used to provide tailored loans and innovative financial products for SMEs at favourable rates. These businesses have struggled to obtain the credit they need. Start-ups, in particular, have struggled in this regard. I hope there will be no blockages or obstacles in the distribution of the finance to worthy projects.