Dáil debates

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Finance Bill 2023: Second Stage


6:55 pm

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent) | Oireachtas source

On behalf of the tourism capital of the western world, County Kerry, and its capital, Killarney, I am glad VAT was retained at the lower rate for the time being. I will look for that to be kept for the foreseeable future, and into the future, because it is so important. I welcome the lower rate on behalf of people working in tourism, including operators, in County Kerry who give much-needed employment and are the flagship for tourism in this country.

On the company car users who are supposed to pay more in 2023 for the privilege of being given a car through their work, the old system was done away with by this Government and a new system based on a combination of bands, CO2 emissions and annual mileage was brought in. However, once the new rules were introduced in January this year, there was a massive backlash. I was inundated by people in businesses in County Kerry who said this was totally ridiculous. People who benefited from benefit-in-kind, BIK, in the past were outraged. Yes, the Government did a U-turn and that was welcome but, unfortunately, the way the BIK bands have now been set up means it is getting extremely complex. Each band does not come with a fixed, taxable percentage. Instead, the bands are further broken down by annual business mileage, in other words, bands within bands. For God's sake, why does the Government have to over-complicate everything, when a perfect system was there previously that people were happy with? It was this obsession with electric cars. The Government has already heard, and I will put it on the record too, people are now saying they want to go back to the old system of using their own car and being paid mileage because such a mess has been made of it. It is like everything. When the Government does not know what it is doing, would it not leave a thing alone? If the men and women in the Government do not have the personal experience, stay away from it, say they do not understand it, are not able to figure it out, and leave it alone. That would be the right thing to do.

I welcome the fact some of the agricultural measures are continuing because they are very important. I also welcome a number of reliefs that were set to expire on 30 June but since the EU revised agricultural block exemption regulation comes into effect on 1 January 2023, can now be extended in line with the budget 2023 announcement. On those agri-reliefs, when it comes to young farmers, we have to do everything we can to try to encourage the transfer of farms and make it attractive from a taxation point of view to do so. We want to make it acceptable, proper and right for older people, if they wish to retire and pass on the baton to the new, younger farmers. We want to make sure that every relief will be there, but the Government did not give a relief when it insulted farmers, forestry men and agricultural contractors by giving a miserly reduction on agri-diesel in comparison with what it did for diesel and petrol. Again, the Government showed it had no understanding whatsoever of farming, agriculture or contracting, including what it costs a contractor to fill a tractor with diesel every day and try to make a day's hire on top of that. The Government does not have a clue. It does not understand the cost of that.


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