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Snippet Contents:

Like my colleagues, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the Finance Bill, which is related to the budget. Three years ago, we were making difficult decisions for the good of the country while people were making sacrifices but no Opposition Member was in the Chamber. I am glad to see Deputy Dara Calleary is making a hasty entrance into the Chamber.
I listened to the rebuttals from Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace but they made no mention of the reduction in USC. Some 410,000 people have been taken out of paying USC since we came into power three years ago. I love to see new incentives for entrepreneurs and start-up companies. Four out of every five jobs are generated in the first five years of a start-up company. While everyone talks about multinationals coming in, the indigenous micro-firms in this country employing fewer than ten people will generate most of the jobs in the economy. I welcome the measures on this point.
This is the first time we have seen a long-term strategy in the budget. There is a layout of what will happen in the next three years. People like certainty as it sends out a signal that they can plan their future and their lives. There was derision about the DIRT tax relief for first-time buyers. It is a minimal sum but sends a signal that we are willing to step into the housing market to do something where the situation might cause a problem. The Central Bank has a consultation document about the 20% minimum deposit. During the consultation period, I hope the Central Bank realises it has created a knock-on effect in the housing market, particularly in my area and in the associated areas in the Dublin region.
I have always welcomed relief on the home. I suggested it to the Minister a couple of years ago. The problem is retired people cannot avail of it. Perhaps we can provide relief with regard to the source of income they have, which may be DIRT or another form of tax. They are being excluded from renovating their homes. Mostly, they renovate their homes to look to the future as they would like to leave the home in decent condition for the generation that may inherit it.
There were many positive measures on farming, such as the idea of land mobility and getting young farmers working on farms. There is an anomaly in the difference between the business relief and agricultural relief. To avail of the agricultural relief, people must have some agricultural qualifications but not for business relief, for which people must only hold the business for six years. I would appreciate some consistency on this.
The sports relief was introduced by a Kildare man, Charlie McCreevy, a number of years ago. What happened last year reduced the options available to sports people. I would like to a reversion to the previous situation, where a sports person could apply relief to any ten years of the sporting career. It was set up mostly for people with short-term careers in sport, of ten or 15 years. I refer to those in the racing industry and golfers whose best years may be behind them. To gain the benefit of it, they must choose ten years out of 15 but perhaps we could revert to applying it to the best ten years.
For the past number of years, I have argued for increasing the licence fee for gaming and slot machines. It is a handy way of getting revenue. There may be a chance to include it in the Bill and it could generate an extra €20 million. It sends out a signal to all sectors.
From day one, I have made reference to this, which is setting down a marker for next year's budget. I refer to child relief for young couples who want to get back into the workforce. It is a difficult one to get around but I am in favour of a second year of preschool. Academics have shown that it proves beneficial and perhaps we can examine this. The vintners welcome the fact that there is no increase in excise but they would like to see something done about below cost selling of alcohol. The last point mentioned by Deputy John O'Mahony is that the tourism sector is booming. I see two Mayo Deputies in the House and they are on the Wild Atlantic Way. Kildare is the route through which people go to the wild Atlantic way but they do not stop over. I would like more encouragement for our greenways in Kildare along the canal. The NTA is positive but I suggest more funding. The message must go out to the hospitality sector not to mess with the 9% VAT rate or we will remove it.