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Budget Statement 2019 (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 973 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty] I have studied this at great length and we have argued consistently that betting taxes needed to be introduced. By introducing it at 2%, the big operators like Paddy Power will absorb the cost and the high street betting offices will be put to the wall, with job losses and more closures in rural communities and towns. There should have been a 3% rate of betting duty to be paid by the punter. That would ensure the big operators could not have absorbed the increase and would leave the other firms continuing to operate in our society. We will deal with that in the finance Bill.

Fair taxes must also be stable and have a clear and transparent intent. The decision to lower the VAT rate to 9% on hotels was broadly welcomed and reflected the difficulties facing the tourism industry at the time. It should have ended before now and today's decision to reverse the rate drop was long overdue. I understand the concern felt by many in the sector, particularly in the regions, about the rate reverting to 13.5%. However, we must acknowledge that the beneficiaries in recent years have been large international investors who were pocketing hundreds of millions of euro in subsidies through Dublin, Cork and Galway hotels. The hotel argument is over and the facts speak for themselves. It has been clear for the past number of years that average room occupancy rates and prices no longer justify the subsidy available both in our capital city and elsewhere. I do not agree with the full restoration of the 13.5% rate in respect of restaurant and pub services. That case has not been made, and particularly in the face of Brexit, an incremental step to bring the rate to 11% should have been taken first. It is something my party and I will revisit in the finance Bill.

Tá a fhios againn uilig go bhfuil cáin iontach tábhachtach. Braitheann seirbhísí sláinte agus seirbhísí poiblí ar an cháin a thagann isteach. With each passing year, more and more corporation tax flows into the State coffers. Given the most recent boon, the State will collect €9.5 billion in corporation tax this year. We know it will not be there forever. Sinn Féin has long made the case that it is the responsibility of the Government to shore up and stabilise our public finances. This budget fails in this regard. With respect to corporation tax paid, the Minister for Finance has failed to ease the concentration of where it is collected. This is clearly a threat to our economic stability and it must be addressed. However, it must also be seen as a temporary opportunity while revenues flow to try to undo the utter neglect this Government has shown, particularly in the area of capital investment. There is an opportunity to use this moment to do what should have been done years ago, which is to build houses, upgrade and invest in infrastructure. The Government has gone to great lengths to lecture the nation about prudence over the past year but building our health funding on sand in a time of crisis is negligence of the highest order. It is absolutely stunning that the Government is funding healthcare with increased corporation taxes when everybody and their dog knows it should not happen. As Sinn Féin advocates, those receipts should be used to address the deficits we had over the past ten years, not least in the building of social and affordable houses.

Our tax base needs stability and our health service deserves the same. This budget is not an opportunity for accounting tricks and short cuts. Mr. Seamus Coffey in his report on Ireland’s corporation tax system argued for the end of the 100% rule that allowed huge multinationals write off intangible assets onshored here to be written off against profit at a rate of 100%. It is still impossible to understand why the former Minister, Deputy Noonan, introduced the rule in the first place but when he limited it to 80% last year, the current Minister excluded those assets already onshored. Taxing these assets going forward would bring in €750 million per year. It is something argued for not only by Sinn Féin but by the expert the Department asked to draft the recommendations. That €750 million would be nearly ten times the announced additional investment made in social housing. We know that funding would not last forever but it could be used to invest in our capital infrastructure, especially housing for our people.

This is the third budget that this Government and Fianna Fáil have shamelessly called a "housing budget". The Minister stood in this Chamber two years ago and told us how the budget would transform housing. The Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson stood in this Chamber last year and said the budget would be judged on its record in respect of housing above all else. With 10,000 people homeless as they present another "housing" budget today, their third on the trot, the people of Ireland are casting judgment once and for all. They are demanding that the Government brings its disgraceful housing and homelessness crisis to an end or move aside for someone who will the job for it.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady Hear, hear.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Thousands of citizens, young and old, crowded the streets outside this building to demand their rights and substantial change but the Government has delivered nothing. It has let them down miserably. What has been given in the budget? There will be €120 million more than pre-committed expenditure and €80 million in addition to NDP commitments for 2019. The only additional measure for social housing to be delivered next year amounts to 490 units. We also have the big trick from Fianna Fáil. Its big measure was to be an affordable housing package amounting to €89 million for 2019 but €75 million of that was already in place.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath That is not true.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty The serviced site initiative for 2019 is €75 million.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath It is over four years. The Deputy's numbers are wrong.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty The crisis is happening now.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Get over it.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty I know this is difficult for the Deputies to swallow, as they spent the past two weeks in Government Buildings.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen The Deputy should get on with it.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty They walked out with €14 million for social housing.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy Doherty, without interruption.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen The Deputy should do his sums.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty It is unbelievable. No wonder the rest of their party has abandoned them.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The Deputy is wrong.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy Doherty, without interruption. He should address the Chair.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty It is important to point out that €75 million for the serviced sites initiative is there for 2019.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath That is wrong.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Fianna Fáil found €89 million in total, an additional €14 million.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath The Deputy is wrong.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty It is a pathetic amount in the context of what is required to address the crisis.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath He should stop digging when he is wrong.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen He is making it up.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty Even if it were €89 million, which it is not, nearly ten times that amount is required. In our alternative budget, we proposed €1 billion in additional investment in capital infrastructure to deal with the social crisis. It is not about tinkering around the edges and presenting this to what Fianna Fáil must believe is a gullible public as a real or genuine effort to deal with the housing crisis.

People in Ireland will not be fooled. We know there are measures for landlords, while others measures were not included in this budget that Fianna Fáil were advocating for on behalf of landlords. It is clear these parties will not get in the way of the privileged and the real estate investors making a fortune from a social tragedy that both parties created. It has never been a worse time to be a renter and it has never been a better time to be a landlord. After this budget, nothing will have changed.

Nothing will have changed for Orla. Orla is 28 and she is a nurse. Like too many nurses, she sees emigration as her only choice. She contacted me so that as I speak to the Minister today, I could give voice to an Irish citizen abandoned by the Government. Orla wants to do all she can to help those in need in our hospitals and right now she is doing just that. She is giving everything to help others in need but like so many people forced to the edge each month, she is worried sick about bills. She dreams of one day having a family but she feels that she simply cannot afford to do so. She is a nurse and the lifeblood of our health service who says she avoids going to a doctor when she is sick because she simply cannot afford it. What a travesty and a failure of this Government and everything it stands for. Orla wants to be successful and give the best care she can to Irish citizens but she is forking out more than €500 a month for a single room in Dublin.

Orla’s story is the story of an endless cycle of Ireland’s most devoted and talented citizens. They have care in their hearts, they love their country but they have been let down by the Government. Orla has been forced to endure a housing crisis that is forcing her to consider giving up her job, her dreams and her home. Nothing will change after budget 2019 for Orla. That is the reality. The Minister and his Government believe it is not the State's job to provide housing and they want to leave it to the market. The market has clearly failed. The Government is happy to leave renters to the mercy of landlords but all too often landlords are using loopholes to evict tenants and jack up rents.


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