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Budget Statement 2021

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Snippet Contents:

The budget is a missed opportunity in the main. While there are some nice bits and pieces to keep certain sectors happy for the moment, it is a missed opportunity in this time of severe crisis due to the pandemic to deal with wastage and how money announced for various sectors does not percolate down to the ordinary person on the street.
The announcement of the new Covid restrictions support scheme of up to €5,000 per week for businesses impacted by level 3 or higher Covid-19 restrictions is welcome. It is certainly needed by the industry. Budget 2021 also provides a support scheme of €55 million for the tourism sector, but that industry has been decimated and this support is coming late. The €55 million will do little or nothing for the tourism industry, which is very important for all of our counties, including Dublin. Dublin is ina stad. It is at a standstill.
The decision on the commercial rates waiver is welcome. It will be extended to the end of the year and beyond and is badly needed. Measures like it are lifelines. The decision is also welcomed by struggling businesses, which have a dreadful fear that such supports may have to be extended even further. They may need to be. Living from month to month or three months to three months is not good enough.
It has been decided to allow those in receipt of the PUP to earn up to €480 per month or €120 per week for casual work, but it is not "casual" work. A self-employed person, such as a plumber or electrician, who is doing vital work for the Leas-Cheann Comhairle or me needs to be able to look after us in these times while also receiving the PUP. Otherwise, that person might lose us as customers. People have to keep their businesses viable. As such, it is vital that they be allowed to earn money. That said, €480 is restrictive in light of plumbers' call-out fees. I say "plumbers", but it could be road builders, electricians or anyone else. It is important that we keep such people active and ready to go for when they are wanted.
The VAT cut is too little and too late. Dropping from 13.5% to 9% is a wasted exercise. Those businesses are closed in the current lockdown, and there will be more lockdowns if the powers that be in NPHET get their way. According to a paper by Dr. David Nabarro of the World Health Organization, lockdowns around the world have not worked and they are not the way to go. I put that to Dr. Holohan, the Taoiseach and others yesterday. We have conflicting messages. The problem is that while I respect the qualifications of these scientists and doctors, business representatives are not involved in NPHET and neither is the Garda Síochána, which has to try to handle the situations that arise. A representative of self-employed people is not involved.