Retention of 9 per cent VAT rate and scrapping air travel tax great boost to tourism – Ray Butler
Fine Gael TD for Meath West, Ray Butler, said that the retention of the 9% VAT rate for tourism services will be a great boost to the tourism sector in Meath. Deputy Butler has also warmly welcomed the scrapping of the air travel tax, as introduced by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD, as part of Budget 2014.
He said: “I am delighted that Minister Noonan has decided to retain the lower VAT rate for tourism services, which has no doubt played a significant role in boosting visitor numbers here over the last two years. This Government has identified the tourism industry as a sector with considerable growth potential, and as a result, a number of measures have been introduced to encourage as many people as possible to holiday in Ireland.
“In tandem with the Gathering, the lower VAT rate has boosted Ireland’s reputation as a high quality, yet affordable destination for visitors from across the globe. The Government’s approach has yet again been vindicated by the latest figures from the CSO, which show that trips to Ireland increased by 4.2% in the second quarter, compared with the same period the previous year. Tourism and travel earnings from overseas visitors are up 5.2%.
“There has been a particularly encouraging increase in visitors coming here from North America and from other long haul markets, including New Zealand and Australia. We are also attracting visitors from emerging markets like China at an increasing rate. The slashing of the air travel tax will no doubt help to open up more routes and make flights to and from Ireland more affordable.
“The boost in tourism figures is having a direct impact on job creation. Employment in food and accommodation services is up by more than 13% since this Government took office, meaning thousands of additional jobs are being created in the tourism industry. This has a trickledown effect in every town and village in the country.
“The 9% VAT rate was originally introduced a short-term interim measures, to provide a boost to the tourism sector. But Minister Noonan has clearly listened to those involved in the industry, and has taken the pragmatic decision to extend the VAT rate and slash the air travel tax. This will safeguard jobs in the sector and come as very welcome news to everyone involved in the tourism industry in Meath.”
Deputy Helen McEntee, of Fine Gael in Meath East, also welcomed the boost to tourism.
Abolition of Telephone Allowance is "mean and dangerous" - Nick Killian
Ratoath Fianna Fail Councillor Nick Killian has condemned the Labour party’s betrayal of the most vulnerable, the older people of Meath in the budget as “yet another cave in by a pointless Labour party”.
He said Minister Burton’s abolition of the Telephone Allowance will affect over 394,671 people, including the old, the disabled and carers. Almost 30,000 carers rely on this Allowance while more than 56,000 disabled people also receive this Allowance.
Cllr Killian stated: “The abolition of the Telephone Allowance is mean and dangerous. It is taken as regular income by older people and is essentially a cut of €9.50 to their pensions every month. This is disproportionate, unfair and will threaten the security and welfare of the most vulnerable in Irish society.
“What Minister Burton fails to appreciate is that many older people in County Meath need their phone line in order to install panic buttons or home security systems. The Allowance allows older people to ensure they can stay in contact with their loved ones in an easy and accessible way. The abolition of this Allowance threatens the very security and welfare of the old, the disabled and their carers.
“This budget’s targeting of Meath's older people is on an unprecedented scale with the abolition of the Bereavement Grant, the shameless grabbing of 30,000 Medical Cards, the increase in prescription charges and the abolition of the Telephone Allowance. All these cuts will have a direct and lasting impact on the most vulnerable and in particular, the elderly.
“These measures will put the final nail in the Taoiseach’s goal of making Ireland the ‘best small country in the world in which to grow old’. Last year, the Government cut over 1 million home care hours for the elderly, shut down the Mobility Allowance, cut the respite care grant by 20% and reduced the Fuel Allowance from 32 to 26 weeks, all directly impacting on older people and the most vulnerable. Fianna Fáil’s fully costed budget proposals ensured a fairer future for Ireland and protected the elderly from cuts and reductions in services.”
Fianna Fáil has no credibility to talk about growth, jobs or the public finances – Damien English
Fine Gael Meath West TD and Chair of the Jobs Committee, Damien English, has strongly criticised Fianna Fáil’s reaction to Budget 2014, saying the Party has no credibility to talk about growth, jobs or the public finances.
“Fianna Fáil’s Finance Spokesperson, Michael McGrath, stood up in the Dáil earlier and said the Budget should focus on growth, jobs and the public finances. Fianna Fáil doesn’t have a shred of credibility to talk about any of these three issues.
“During the last three years of Fianna Fáil’s disastrous time in power, 250,000 jobs were lost in the private sector. Growth rates evaporated and the public finances went over a cliff. Fianna Fáil’s economic mismanagement drove this country into a bailout and resulted in serious hardship being inflicted on our people.
“Over the last two and a half years, this Government has been gradually, step by step, repairing the wreckage left by Fianna Fáil. We have moved from a situation where 7,000 jobs were being lost every month, to a situation where 3,000 new jobs are being created every month. The Live Register has fallen for the last 15 months in a row and, crucially, we are on track to exit the bailout in two months’ time.
“Fianna Fáil gave up our economic sovereignty. This Government is getting it back. The 2014 Budget, while tough, contains a number of pro-jobs measures to build on the progress already made. This includes a range of measures to support start-ups and growing businesses, as well as measures to safeguard our growing tourism trade, including the retention of the 9% VAT rate and the scrapping of the airline tax.
“Almost 34,000 people joined the labour market over the last year. That’s in stark contrast to the 70,000 people who lost their jobs each year between 2008 and 2010 as Fianna Fáil presided over our economic collapse.
“I understand that Fianna Fáil, as an Opposition Party, must put forward a view on the Budget. But the Party does so with absolutely no credibility. This is not helped by the weakness of Fianna Fáil’s pre-Budget submission, which contains a €500 million hole. While Fianna Fáil shouts disingenuously and hypocritically from the side lines, this Government will continue with the real task of repairing our economy and getting Ireland back to work.”
BUDGET GIVES €500 MILLION BOOST TO ENTREPRENEURS and SMEs - Dominic HANNIGAN
Meath East Labour TD Dominic Hannigan has welcomed the €500 million tax package that will be available for entrepreneurs and SMEs from 2014.
A range of measures was announced that will encourage people to start their own businesses and to help SMEs get investment. The ‘Build your Business Initiative’ is all about promoting entrepreneurship and creating new small businesses.
The new measures include the Capital Gains Tax Relief for reinvestment, retaining the 9% VAT rate for the tourism industry, the Trade Finance Initiative and expanding the remit of Credit Review Office to include bigger loans.
Speaking after the budget was announced Hannigan said: "As someone who has set up my own business I welcome these new measures. This budget gives a substantial boost to Irish entrepreneurs and start-ups. We must not forget that the SME sector employs nearly 70% of the workers in the country. Our sustained economic recovery relies on the strength of small and medium businesses. These measures should help to make it easier for SMEs and startups to get investment and create jobs.
“I was also very glad to hear the Minister for Finance speak about implementing a communications strategy for all the supports that are available for SMEs. The lack of clear information about these supports needs to be fixed so they are all used to their full potential.
“A new measure was also announced to help get long term unemployed people back to work.
“The ‘Start Your Own Business Scheme’ for people who are 15 months unemployed or longer will see them pay no income tax on the first €40,000 they earn for 2 years if they set up their own business. This scheme will particularly help anyone with a trade who lost their job when the construction boom ended and who wants to get back to work but could not get the finance to start their own business.”