Saturday August 8, 2020

Budget 2017: Top of the wish lists

What the main lobby groups are hoping for in Budget 2017

11th October, 2016
High hopes? Pic: RollingNews.ie

All eyes will be on the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe when they unveil Budget 2017 today. We take a look at what some of the best-known lobby groups in the country are hoping for:

1. Business– Ibec

Dealing with the fallout from Brexit is among the top priorities for the business lobby group which believes the budget needs to contain measures to help firms cope with the recent sharp fall in the value of sterling against the euro in particular.

It wants the budget to put a €25 million fund in place to support firms diversifying into new markets and has called for the reintroduction of the Employment Subsidy Scheme and the Enterprise Stabilisation scheme which ran from 2009 until 2011. It also believes that nothing should be done that would add to business costs at a time of acute commercial pressure.

Other measures on the lobby group's wish list include greater investment in transport, education, housing and broadband, measures to tackle the housing crisis and an improved tax offering to attract mobile investment and make Ireland a more attractive place to invest and grow a business.

Ibec says the government needs to stay the course on fiscal policy and should not deviate from plans for a modestly expansionary budget while it also wants to see the government get the personal tax system into line.

"You have to earn nearly €55,000 in the UK to be hit by their 40% tax rate," the business group says. "In Ireland workers earning less than €34,000 pay a much higher marginal rate."

It wants the point at which workers hit the marginal rate to be increased by €1,000 in the budget and a clear road map to lower the marginal rate to 45% and broaden the tax base.

2. Small Firms– The SFA and Isme

An end to tax discrimination against the self-employed features highly on the wish lists of the organisations representing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

In its pre-budget submission, the Small Firms Association called for an end to such discrimination, including abolition of the three per cent USC surcharge that applies only to the self-employed. It also focuses on competitiveness and investment in infrastructure as well as tax reform -- it wants the capital gains tax rate for entrepreneurs cut to 10 per cent.

Meanwhile, its rival ISME has called for a reduction in employers' PRSI on lower pay, the end of social welfare anomalies and inflexibilities, an increase in bank credit availability for SMEs and an increased emphasis on town centre revitalisation.

3. Tourism and Hospitality– The Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, The Vintner's Federation of Ireland

Maintaining the status quo would go a long way to keeping the tourism sector happy – top of its wish list is the retention of the nine per cent VAT rate on tourism services and the continued suspension of the airport departure tax.

Its other demands mirror those of other business organisations and include limiting labour cost increases, equalising the treatment of the self-employed and providing incentives to business and enterprise. It also called on the government to ensure the broader cost environment remains supportive of the tourism business by not increasing excise tax on tourist-related goods and by addressing issues such as electricity and insurance costs as well as ease of access to credit.

Excise is also exercising The Vintners' Federation of Ireland which has called for a 15 per cent reduction in the duty on alcohol introduced in the 2013 budget.

4. Social Justice– Social Justice Ireland, Barnardos, Age Action Ireland

Investment in infrastructure and public services rather than tax cuts is a feature of the pre-budget submissions of groups campaigning for social justice.

Social Justice Ireland has called on the government to invest the €1 billion it has to spend in infrastructure to improve productivity and competitiveness rather than on cutting taxes.

"This would be a far better use of resources than giving tax cuts as incentives to attract ‘Brexit refugees’ from the City of London to Dublin," the organisation said.

It wants an additional €600 million to support the social housing strategy, €710 million for broadband, rural transport and a rural enterprise scheme as well as investment in health, education and a social welfare package including an increase of €6.50 per week in social welfare payments.

Children's charity Barnardos also called on the government to forgo tax cuts in favour of investment in public services while Age Action Ireland focused on the need for increased support to address digital exclusion amongst older people and the issue of energy poverty.

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