Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Retention of 9% VAT Rate: Discussion with Restaurants Association of Ireland

3:35 pm

Photo of Feargal QuinnFeargal Quinn (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I welcome our guests. I know something about the tourism business because my father ran Red Island holiday camp in Skerries. In those days there was, certainly at a higher level, a degree of snobbery in respect of the profession. Those to whom I refer did not really want people to come here to stay in a holiday camp. Rather, they wanted them to come here to hunt, shoot and play golf. Does that type of snobbery still exist? Are there still barriers in the context of attracting certain types of tourists? Are there any bureaucratic barriers which our guests would like to see removed?

Deputy Calleary stated that the move in respect of VAT was a no-brainer. In the past I argued that a reduction in the percentage of VAT would give rise to a corresponding increase in the moneys accruing to the Government. The move to reduce the rate of VAT was a real win-win situation. I cannot believe that the Government is considering increasing the VAT on restaurants. It should be considering introducing a second reduction in order to provide the industry with another boost. The previous reduction had a tremendous impact.

I was jolted by what was said with regard to the lack of chefs, etc. What action can we take to solve this problem? Mr. Cummins explained the position but I would have thought that it would be very easy for people to gain entry to the profession. I was chairman of the leaving certificate applied programme for five years. That programme identifies talents, skills, abilities and levels of intelligence among students which are not necessarily measured by the mainstream leaving certificate. We tried to encourage those who pursued the leaving certificate applied to develop the talents, skills and abilities to which I refer. In that context, people who had sat at the back of the classroom up to junior certificate and who were not considered to be great academically turned out to be brilliant chefs, orators and so on. At the end of each year we visited the various schools which run the leaving certificate applied and were entertained by and treated to the cooking of the students. One could see that some of the students - all of whom were 17 or 18 years of age - had suddenly discovered that they possessed abilities which had not previously been identified. Is there some way we can encourage more people to enter the profession? As stated, I am shocked by the fact that there are vacancies in this area. There are vacancies in the information and communications technology sector which we cannot fill other than by taking on people from abroad. As Deputy Tóibín noted and as a result of the fact that we have not encouraged people here to develop the necessary skills, we may also be obliged to fill vacancies in the tourism and restaurant sector by importing individuals from abroad. What should we do? Is there a need to increase investment in education, particularly at third level, to deal with this problem?


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