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Minister for Finance asleep at the wheel

19 December, 2008

Speaking during this mornings Seanad debate on the Finance Bill Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty described the Bill as “representing the depressing evidence of a government intent on sleep walking through a crisis that is threatening not just the banking system or the construction sector but is slowly bleeding the small businesses that employ most Irish workers and which is the heart of the Irish economy.”


The Donegal senator added:


“Hundreds of thousands of working families, whose efforts drove this economy through the Celtic Tiger years, have all but been abandoned in this bill, they have been condemned to endure higher taxes and more stealth charges, all to fund the policies of failure.


“The government have failed on income tax, on VAT, on the tax exile status, on reforming tax relief and tackling tax fraud. They have failed to protect the vulnerable and most importantly in terms of ensuring economic growth they are penalising rather than rewarding working families, and there is nothing in this bill to incentivise or stimulate enterprise.


“On income tax Sinn Féin had proposed increasing the PAYE tax credit by 5% so those on low incomes would get some respite from the higher energy costs, mortgages and food prices they have endured over the last year.


“This bill leaves the personal credits unchanged and only widens the 20% tax band marginally. It does nothing to help families deal with increased costs of living in an economy where inflation is over 4% with double digit increases in electricity and energy process already being levied on households this year.


“On top of this many families face new transport charges for school buses, higher hospital charges, a new VHI levy and increasing university registration fees. When you add up these charges along with the increases in taxes for low and middle income families, even at a conservative estimate hard working families will see their income reduced by up to €1,500 in 2009.


“Not only has the minister done nothing to restore the purchasing power of Irish families his proposal to increase VAT to 21.5% is another regressive step and will hit Irish families unfairly.


“Now with border towns in the 26 Counties being emptied of shoppers the 2.5% cut in VAT will exacerbate an already gaping imbalance between the two economies. The Minister for Finance is actively encouraging shoppers to leave his tax jurisdiction. It is more the economics of FiannaFawltyTowers than the financial stability he promises us.


“Where is the investment in infrastructure that will create jobs and build competitiveness? How will we help those who have lost their jobs get back into the workforce as quickly as possible and ensure that they are supported properly while that happens? When will we end the era of tax breaks for the rich while PAYE workers struggle to survive?'


“The economy is in danger of a serious meltdown and this bill does not reflect the gravity of the situation. What will it take to get the coalition to wake up? For now we have a minister for finance asleep at the wheel.” ENDS

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