Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Finance (No. 2) Bill 2013: Second Stage (Resumed)
I also very much welcome the opportunity to speak on the Finance (No. 2) Bill 2013 and to offer some thoughts and views on the legislation before the House.
I commend the Minister for Finance and his Cabinet colleagues on the many innovative measures in the Bill aimed at harnessing economic growth and moving the country forward after years of reckless mismanagement, which my colleague Deputy O'Donovan outlined very articulately to House.
I welcome some specific elements of the Bill, one being the retention of the 9% VAT rate for the hospitality and tourism sector. That was really important in that it sent out a message that the Government is one that will reward success. The sector was in real trouble. It sought assistance from the Government and it received it. As a result, it created thousands upon thousands of jobs. In the most recent budget, the success has been rewarded with the continuation of the lower rate. This is making a huge difference in every town, village, café, restaurant and hairdresser on every main street, including in my constituency. I thank the Government for rewarding success and sending out a message that if one asks for assistance and makes it work, one's case will be looked upon positively by the Government.
Some of the measures in regard to entrepreneurs, most particularly the capital gains tax relief to encourage people to reinvest in productive training, is very welcome. Possibly the two most exciting measures in the Finance Bill are the home renovation incentive and the start your-own-business scheme. Both need to be seen together. People are now financially encouraged to carry out renovations, such as building a conservatory or patio, replacing the windows or doing up the primary residence, but there is also an incentive for those who have found themselves out of work for a significant period and who might have worked in the area of construction, including plumbers and electricians, to start their own businesses and benefit from the more favourable market. When the two schemes are put together, the outcome is really positive.
I very much welcome the abolition of the air travel tax. I welcome the fact that we are already seeing the benefit in terms of jobs and new routes into the country.
I look forward to examining more measures in the Bill on Committee Stage. I have previously raised the issue of development levies with Ministers. We need to consider a development levy holiday for a very specific type of development, such as one-off houses or houses to be built for a son or daughter. The development levy is crucifying those who propose such developments. As a result, the council is not receiving any money and the construction industry is being held back.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett seems to have completely missed the point. We do not want to recreate a property bubble or an economy that is completely dependent on people selling houses to one another. However, there is a role for the construction industry. We have gone from one extreme to the other, from a sector that is too large to one that is too small.
I am pleased the Minister of State responsible for small and medium enterprises is present. We must do a better job at promoting the schemes that are available to help businesses. The Minister of State is doing an excellent job travelling the country. I had the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, in my constituency recently meeting business leaders. Eighty-three businesses from Bray and Greystones were represented at the meeting. Their eyes were really opened to the various supports available to them. The people in question are really busy and they operate in a very difficult economic climate so we need to make the information accessible to them. The Minister of State is working on that. We are working on a one-stop shop, a website. I would welcome and encourage this.
I wrote to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, about inheritance tax on 3 September. I asked him to examine the difficulty the tax poses for people with either a mental health issue or intellectual disability who inherit a property on the passing of their parents. I recently met a number of parents of adult children with either a mental health issue or an intellectual disability and noted they are extremely concerned that if they leave a property to their son or daughter, that son or daughter will not be in a position to pay the inheritance tax due to the fact that they will not be in employment or have an income other than a social welfare payment. The Minister, Deputy Noonan, said he would examine this in the context of the Finance Bill. I would very much appreciate it if I could receive the thoughts of the Department of Finance on the issue. It is an anomaly in our system.
I am very pleased the issue of the lone parent credit will be examined. We have various parenting units in this country and we need to explore the matter compassionately. I add my voice to the comment of Deputy Lawlor on physiotherapy. As we move towards promoting a model of primary care and preventive health measures, we do not need circumstances in which we impose additional costs whereby one has to go to one's doctor to pay €50 or €60 to be referred to a physiotherapist to pay the next €50 or €60 so one can get tax back. I very much commend to the House what I believe is a pro-jobs and pro-economic growth Finance Bill. I commend the Minister on putting it together.