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Financial Resolutions 2019

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Budget Statement 2019

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Snippet Contents:

I acknowledge that many of the measures introduced today by the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, are extremely welcome. The across-the-board increases on all social welfare payments will be of benefit to a considerable segment of our population. However, the ordinary working man is getting a smaller increase than those on social welfare, and that is very unfair. It is wrong: we must make it pay to go to work. I will return to that matter shortly.
I share the sentiments expressed by Social Justice Ireland, which has long advocated a guiding vision for Irish society based on the values of human dignity and pursuit of the common good. In its pre-budget submission it outlined how these values are central to the vision of a nation in which all men, women and children have what they require to live life with dignity and to fulfil their potential, including sufficient income, access to the services they need and active inclusion in a genuinely participatory society.
The VAT hike for the tourism sector is expected to cost the sector over €400 million. This is a retrograde step. During the week an increase to 11% was mooted. Why was there no such incremental increase? The step outlined by the Minister is very unfair. This really was a lost opportunity in terms of a just taxation regime for business and the tourism sector in rural Ireland. We were told today that the increase was necessary not only to generate greater income but also to avoid putting pressure on other areas of taxation. The Minister would have us believe that the tax increase is like a golden goose that will help solve the chronic problems in housing, schools and health. This is a classic penny wise, pound foolish tax. There seems to be two Irelands - urban Ireland and rural Ireland. The Minister tried to offset the damage that will be done by saying he is going to give additional funding of almost €50 million to help the tourism sector and to mediate that funding through the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. It was a sop to ensure that the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport would vote for the budget this morning. It is the same as saying that a person will have his or her legs broken, but will be given a nice new pair of crutches to help him or her along afterwards. We know from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport that tourism is one of Ireland’s most important economic sectors and that it has significant potential to play a further role in Ireland’s economic renewal. In 2016, tourism was responsible for overseas earnings, which are very important, of €4.5 billion. Combining the data from the domestic market and international visitors, total tourism revenue for the economy is estimated to be around €7.8 billion. The tourism sector supports 150,000 jobs in the accommodation and food sector alone, and overall employment in tourism is estimated to be in the region of 220,000. The Minister of State is a rural Deputy. He should know that this move is unbearable for rural Ireland. It is an awful body blow.