Budget lacking in Brexit response, says Martin

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at 2016.10.12
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Budget lacking in Brexit response, says Martin

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has told Taoiseach Enda Kenny that one of the most disappointing aspects of the Budget was the lack of any substantial response to the challenges of Brexit.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil, Mr Martin said that this is “extraordinary” as people were promised a Brexit-proofed budget.

The Government should be planning for a hard Brexit and not hoping for a soft one, he said.

He also accused the Government of a gamble, saying it is assuming that sterling will strengthen by over 6% next year.

The currency crisis is the most real, he said, and asked if there should be contingency provision be put in place.

The Taoiseach said the situation is fluid until British Prime Minister Theresa May moves Article 50.

He said the Government is conscious of the currency fluctuations and that is why the Minister for Agriculture had put in place a €150m low interest facility for farmers.

In response to a question from Labour leader Brendan Howlin, Mr Kenny said the increase in social welfare payments will be made across the month of March.

He said details and dates will be revealed when the Social Welfare Bill is published in two weeks’ time.

AAA-PBP Deputy Ruth Coppinger queried how many families would benefit from the new childcare package announced yesterday.

She said very little was given back to low and middle income workers, and she was critical of the way the scheme only applies to Tusla-registered child centres.

Shift workers and those on zero hours contracts with minders would not be able to benefit, she said.

The Taoiseach said the previous government prioritised the issue of children and that is why Tusla – Child and Family Agency was set up.

He said the Government is trying to bring together the many disjointed areas of childcare.

Independent Danny Healy-Rae said the housing crisis rolls on and the cause is supply.

He said that developers cannot build as they cannot access credit and the banks will not lend to them.

Mr Healy-Rae asked the Taoiseach to intervene with the banks so developers and contractors can access money.

A debate on Budget 2017 will resume in the Dáil this afternoon when party leaders will deliver their views on it.

The first budget measure to come into effect was the increase in the cost of tobacco when the 50 cent rise in the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes went into effect at midnight.

Budget breaches will not lead to EU fines – FAC

The Chairman of the Fiscal Advisory Council has said financial breaches by the Government in Budget 2017 “aren’t large enough in current projections to bring fines from the EU, but they still are breaches of the rules from this year and next.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Professor John McHale said there are two rules which constrain Irish budgetary policy; one requires an improvement in the budget structural balance of 0.6% of GDP each year.

He said according to yesterday’s Budget, this improvement will only be 0.3% of GDP for this year.

Prof McHale said the other rule is the expenditure benchmark which sets a limit on expenditure growth and he said “for 2017 the Government’s own projections have them exceeding that €200 million.”

He said there has been “some slippage” in the implementation of the budgetary framework.

Brian Dowling: Holding the centre

Sean Whelan: It’s still about the debt

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said that Budget 2017 is a recognition that work has to be worthwhile and that only a strong economy, supporting people at work, can provide the public services that are needed.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms Fitzgerald said that the package for first-time buyers will make a difference for those attempting to save a deposit, while also encouraging builders to build and therefore address the housing shortage.

Civilians will be recruited to assist gardaí by mid-2017, she added.

Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Shane Ross has said Independent Alliance did not get everything it wanted in the Budget but did get a lot done.

The Independent Alliance TD said the Budget was trying to spread as widely as possible the very limited resources that the Government had.

Mr Ross said he presumed the delay in paying the €5 per week pension increase until March was due to differences between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on the issue.

He said the Independent Alliance did not want a delay in paying the increase but did not object to what was agreed.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Budget was, in essence, a very political one and about Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil preserving the status quo.

Also speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, she said that in her view it was a “party political budget”.

She described it as being “like a patchwork quilt – a bit of a box ticking exercise”.

Ms McDonald said she was glad to see the extension of the medical card to children in receipt of the domiciliary care allowance, saying this was very much a Sinn Féin initiative in the Dáil.

Independent TD Stephen Donnelly said Budget 2017 was a “political budget” that lacks ambition.

He described the €20,000 tax rebate for first-time buyers as “madness, wasteful and inequitable” and that the move will push up the price of property.

In addition, he said, the measure will make things worse for the “negative equity generation” which has been ignored since the start of the crisis.

However, he praised efforts to tackle tax avoidance and vulture funds in the budget which would, he said, bring in billions of euro in additional taxes over the coming years.

Mr Donnelly gave full credit to Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s efforts to tackle the issue of childcare costs in the budget, which he said was a “first step”.

Among the headline measures of Budget 2017 are: 

– A new help-to-buy scheme for first-time house buyers struggling to get on the property ladder, giving a 5% rebate of up to €20,000 over four years on new houses.

– Further cuts to the three lowest rates of the Universal Social Charge, of 0.5%.

– 50 cent tax added to cigarettes, bringing major brands to more than €11 a packet.

– Freeze on the reduced tourism and hospitality VAT rate of 9%.

– A new sugar tax on soft drinks to be introduced alongside the UK in April 2018.

– A two-year extension to the home renovation tax-break scheme credited with kick-starting the construction industry.

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Published at Wed, 12 Oct 2016 14:26:18 +0000

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