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Finance Bill extension of private hospital tax reliefs disgraceful - Ó Caoláin

2 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Finance spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has described as “disgraceful” the decision of the Minister for Finance to widen tax reliefs for private hospitals. He said it was “totally unacceptable” and will accelerate the privatisation of health services.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, “It is disgraceful and totally unacceptable that the tax relief for developers of private hospitals and nursing homes is to be consolidated and extended. This is a huge subsidy to the thriving private health business that needs such support least. Profit-driven operators are being rewarded again at a time when all State spending in health should be invested in public health and social services that care for everyone based on need alone and not on ability to pay and the profit motive.

“The extension of the tax relief to those providing private mental health services is perverse as spending on publicly-provided mental health services is still totally inadequate. Are we now to have a profit-driven mental healthcare sector which provides privileged care to those able to pay for it, while patients dependent on the public system continue to suffer? 

“This Government has given massive tax subsidies to property speculators and developers of private hospitals, hotels, holidays camps, holiday cottages, multi-storey car parks, sports injuries clinics and other commercial ventures. In today’s booming economy these are hugely profitable areas yet they are being further subsidised out of public funds.

“The Minister for Finance is still unable to tell us the full cost of most of these tax reliefs. No cost-benefit analysis has been carried out on them. But most people can see plainly that they have benefited already wealthy property speculators and have put public money in the pockets of those who need it least.” ENDS

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