Thursday, 15 October 2020
Financial Resolutions 2020 - Financial Resolution No. 7: General (Resumed)
Michael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
In the line of business, there are some good things in the budget. It is welcome. We need to keep people employed in this country. However, I hope it is not cumbersome. That is the one thing I hope for, because if we make it cumbersome the reality is that we will lose many jobs.
I love the way figures are done. I have just come from the agriculture committee. Voted expenditure last year was €1.76 billion. We were told the other day that some €179 million extra would be provided for agriculture. Funnily enough, €1.8 billion is what the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy McGrath, read out in his Dáil speech. The figure was €1.76 billion the year before. That means €40 million extra even though €30 million will go to Bord Bía and €4 million extra will go for infrastructure for Brexit.
The reality is that figures can look good at times but the agricultural sector has not got anything extra. We need to put things in place for Brexit and ensure there is an easy passage for our meat in the ports. If there is a tariff, who will pay it? Are we going to see farmers face what they faced in 1974, when cattle were left on the side of the road? Are we going to put something in place to ensure these farmers can continue to supply meat?
Ironically enough, it is unusual to see that before we got protected geographical indication status for beef, they were promoting our grass-fed beef in England, the same as we are doing under the PGI scheme. I imagine a horse dealer would get PGI status up and running and then promote his produce to try to get it to a higher level. Ironically enough, we are not doing that at the moment.
The one thing that will cripple the people in rural Ireland is the carbon tax. Many here come from a farming background. Whether it is making silage or topping, no matter what the farmer is doing on the farm, he needs a tractor. We will hear the story traipsed out by many a Minister telling us that there is double taxation for the farmer, and they are right to say it. However, the reality is that 90% of the work is done. I read an article in AgriLand. One contractor who cuts silage said that over the next ten years, the cost would be €130,000 or €150,000 extra. I know Tesla is talking about something that is electric, but no alternative is available. The Government has decided, because it is playing ball with the Green Party and licking up to that party, we are going to cripple those in the farming community with this carbon tax. This applies not only to them but to every young couple. Show me a politician who can say that if a person gets over €25,000, he or she will get something. What do they get in this country? What do they get when they fill in any form? Unfortunately, they will be told in counties Galway or Roscommon that if they earn more than €25,500 they are above the social housing threshold and they will be sent away. If parents have children going to school, they will be sent away without a back-to-school allowance. Let us suppose a husband and wife are working, have a mortgage and children going to college and they are on €25,000 or €30,000 each. It is over the threshold and they do not get anything. These are the people who are paying everything and getting nothing. No one seems to be bothered about them, only they get more medicine and hardship. These are the people who have brought the country right up to where it is today since 2010. These are the people who have worked hard. What do we do? What do we do with their home heating oil, which might keep them warm when they get home at night? We take another €100 off them this year. What do we do with their cars? We knock another €90 or €100 in carbon tax from them. For good measure, we make them pay more tax on the car. That is more tax on the car from the same people who were in government - those in the Green Party - when Mr. Gormley was in office in 2009 or 2010. Back then he decided to bring in these bands of tax. He told everyone to go and buy diesel. Now, at the press of a button or the stroke of a pen, it has changed. To make it even smarter and more cunning, the Government has put into legislation that people are shafted forever and a day. The rural Deputies will not have the embarrassment of voting with their Government to shaft the people in middle Ireland. If that is justice, then I do not know what politics is about. We are supposed to try to look after people.
I have no wish to be critical. There are good things in the budget. There are things that will help business. Yet, my God, we have an agricultural sector worth €14 billion that exports. We have 300,000 people directly or indirectly employed in it and we have decided to kick them in the goolies. We have also decided to knock some more money from the people in middle Ireland, the people who get up early in the morning and go out to work, as a Taoiseach once said. Show me what people earning more than €25,000 will get? They will not get retrofitting. They may if they have €30,000 more to match it, but this is living in reality and not the cuckoo world that some of the Green Party decide to live in, where they have buses and Luas vehicles and all these other things up their asses in Dublin. When a person goes down the country, he almost has to take a photo of a bus to see one. It is not what is in Dublin.