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Government need to begin dialogue on all-island VAT harmonisation

22 January, 2009

Sinn Fein Economic Spokesperson and Louth TD Arthur Morgan has called on the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan TD to take immediate steps to ensure that the 400 Superquinn workers who are to lose their jobs have access to upskilling or retraining as necessary. Deputy Morgan also called on the government to begin a dialogue with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer on all-island tax harmonisation to tackle the impact of the VAT differential north and south of the border to the retail sector.

Deputy Morgan said:

"The current economic crisis is hitting the retail sector hard across Ireland; however the harshest blow is most acutely felt across the border counties. The loss of 67 jobs following Superquinn's decision to close its Dundalk store is a devastating blow to the town. But until the government puts in place a strategy to tackle job creation, particularly in vulnerable sectors and geographical regions, unemployment figures will continue to soar. Projected year end unemployment figures of 400,000 cannot continue to be ignored by Fianna Fáil and the Greens.

"The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan needs to take immediate steps to ensure the 67 workers in Dundalk who will lose their jobs once Suerpquinn closes its doors have access to the necessary upskilling and retraining so that they can seek employment outside of the retail sector.

"The Tánaiste also needs to work with the Taoiseach and Finance Minister to address the deteriorating situation for the retail sector along the border counties. In advance of Octobers Budget Sinn Féin called for a 2% reduction in VAT in its Pre Budget Submission to boost the incomes of low and middle income earning families and to stimulate consumer spending. Instead the government made an economically inept decision by actually increasing VAT.

"This measure could have gone some way to address the VAT differential on the island. Families and businesses throughout the border counties have traditionally been hardest hit by partition.

"The government needs to take a proactive approach in tackling the impact of the islands VAT differential. Sitting on their hands and letting the chips fall where they may is costing families their livelihoods. This approach is also increasing the social welfare bill; neither of these outcomes makes sense for the economy or for Irish society.

"The existence of two tax regimes on this small island simply does not make sense. This approach by both governments continues to foster economic distortions across the island. It also adds to the historic border county economic instability and social deprivation created by partition.

"The Táinaste and Finance Minister need to meet with the British Chancellor of the Exchequer to begin a dialogue on the harmonising of taxation on the island. The reality for businesses and families throughout the island is that an all Ireland economy is the only affordable option." ENDS

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