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Budget Statement 2021

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Deputy Michael Collins

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Snippet Contents:

There are parts of today's budget which I welcome. For rural Ireland, however, including my constituency of Cork South-West, it is mostly a severe kick in the teeth. In particular, I must talk at length about the carbon tax. It will add €1.51 to the cost of a tank of diesel and €1.30 to the price of a tank of petrol. This budget looks like a Dublin 4 budget which Green Party members can claim as a victory because it is a green budget. Did they give any thought to the people who have to pull up at a filling station two or three times a week to fill their tanks? They have no choice but to do so because they live in rural Ireland. This measure is an attack on farmers, hauliers and fishermen. Let nobody in the Green Party, Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael who supports this measure say to farmers that they should think about getting an electric tractor or ask the guy going out fishing in the morning, whether an inshore fishermen or whatever, why he does not put an electric engine into his boat or trawler. It is ridiculous.
This budget is quite simply a hit on the people of rural Ireland. That is what it is, start and finish, and the Government is standing idly by. At the last election, I was the only politician in the whole line of people running in Cork South-West who said there should not be a carbon tax because it would hurt the people of rural Ireland. The other candidates were quite happy with it but here we are today and we know people will be hit in the pocket because of it. Farmers, hauliers and fishermen have been contacting me all day long telling me it will hit them hardest. It will also hit the ordinary mothers and fathers taking their children to school every morning and going about their daily chores to try to survive. If they are not hit by the carbon tax, they will be hit by motor tax or the new vehicle registration tax. They will be hit one way or the other and those hits are aimed specifically at the people of rural Ireland. Nobody in government should try to fool or cod us today by saying it is all right and people will not be hit. They certainly will be hit and anybody in rural Ireland who thinks that is not the case is fooling himself or herself. This is the issue for which I have the most severe criticism today because it shows that there has been no understanding in the budget for the man and woman who lives in rural Ireland. It is hit after hit for them. Any Independent Deputies who come in tonight and say they will support this are turning their back on their own people.
I very much welcome the €55 million allocation for tourism. The industry in my own constituency is struggling severely and I have called for the introduction of a 0% VAT rate. We were told that it could not be done but the Government certainly could have looked at the UK model and introduced a 5% rate. Instead, it has decided to reduce the rate from 13.5% to 9% at a time when there is no tourism activity at all and people in the industry are struggling and barely surviving. This measure should have been introduced a number of months ago when it would have been an incentive to assist businesses through this terrible pandemic. It was a terrible mistake not to reduce the rate sooner. Now the Government is throwing a small gesture the industry's way by going from 13.5% to 9% in a month's time or two months' time.