Seanad debates

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

3:30 pm

Photo of Paul GavanPaul Gavan (Sinn Fein)

I welcome the Minister of State. I say, "Fair play to him", because it has been a long debate.

I will start by commending Senator Dolan. His was one of the best contributions I have heard in terms of analysing where this budget has fallen down, particularly in respect of the disabled. The Senator did it brilliantly. I hope there is somebody listening to what he said. Clearly, they have not been listening up until now and that is a real pity.

The first point I will make in the context of carbon tax is that, let us be clear, this has nothing to do with the environment. It is merely a tax. It is making people pay more. There is nothing for working people in this budget apart from additional costs. That is not good enough. Let us put this climate change conversation in context. One hundred global companies are responsible for 71% of climate change and I have a simple question in that regard. What measures has the Government proposed in the budget to enable business, as opposed to working people, those driving old cars, people trying to get their children to school and people without a decent transport service, to make their contribution to tackling climate change? What is proposed does not add up.

Of course, there is an ideology running through this budget. In fairness, Senator Higgins has called out much of it. These tremendous tax scams - the key employee engagement programme, KEEP, the capital gains tax entrepreneurial relief and, my favourite, the special assignee relief programme, SARP, which is one of the greatest scams. With SARP, millionaires can right off one third of their tax. The increase in the minimum wage is to be deferred until March. Can the Minister of State assure us that these special scams, these wonderful tax relief schemes for the wealthiest in the country, will also be deferred until March? Surely, a Fine Gael Government will not single out the lowest-paid workers in the State and say that they will have to wait for their relief. Surely, the Government will ask the multimillionaires benefiting from SARP to wait as well. Surely, the Government will not say that it is grand, they should work away with the 30% tax relief on their €1 million earnings, there is no problem, and the Government will merely kick the lowest paid and make them wait. I guess that is the Minister of State's ideology.

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