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Snippet Contents:

Another 500 civilians will also be hired. The additional allocation for the justice sector in 2018 is €63 million. The rationale for this investment is to continue to invest and develop a modern police force that delivers an exemplary level of service to communities. The Minister for Justice and Equality and I are in agreement that increased spending on gardaí and police staffing will continue to go hand in hand with a commitment to drive reform throughout the organisation. We all have a shared interest in getting to a better place.
Preparing for Brexit
As the impact of Brexit unfolds over the coming years, it is clear there are likely to be permanent changes in our trade patterns. Small and medium businesses will need to innovate and increasingly look to new European and international markets other than the UK. In order to assist small and medium enterprises, SMEs, with this, I am announcing a Brexit loan scheme. Together with my colleagues, the Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I am making a loan scheme of up to €300 million available at competitive rates to SMEs, including food businesses given their unique exposure to the UK market, to help them with their short-term working capital needs. This scheme is supported by the European Investment Bank, the European Commission and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland. It will give SMEs time to put in place the necessary changes to help their businesses grow into the future. The Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will be providing details of this scheme.
Furthermore, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will have a total budget next year of almost €871 million. This will, among much else, enable the recruitment of over 40 staff across the Department and enterprise agencies to bolster our ability to proactively respond to the challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit.
Supporting Tourism and Enhancing our Transport Network
While there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the outcome of the Brexit process, tourism continues to be a national success story. That said, one clear impact of the UK’s decision has been the continuing weakness in the value of sterling. While I note that prices in Dublin continue to rise, I have said before that VAT policy cannot be decided on the basis of one location only, no matter how big, but in the context of the broader national interest. Accordingly, I have decided not to change the VAT rate on the tourism and services sector in budget 2018.
I am announcing a total allocation of over €2 billion in total funding for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. This includes €112 million for funding to further enhance our tourism offering and market our country abroad. In addition to tourism, there will be an increase of €9.6 million in transport funding that will support increased public transport services and improvements to our road network that will see total current funding in this area rise to €414 million. The capital allocation for this Department will total €7.5 billion for the four year period to 2021 and will allow continued progress on many areas such as the national indoor arena, the Sallins bypass, the Oberstown interchange project and many other projects across the country that will begin construction, assisting commuters, enhancing development and improving our national competitiveness. BusConnects is also a programme of priority investment for public transport, which plans to fundamentally transform our bus system so that journeys by bus will be fast, reliable, punctual, convenient and affordable.