Wednesday, 13 October 2021
Budget 2022: Statements (Resumed)
Tim Lombard (Fine Gael)
I welcome the allocation of nearly €90 billion in this budget, which is a very significant sum. It will do an awful lot across the three major areas we need to look at, namely, health, housing and climate action. These are the three principal issues on which the Government has worked hard towards getting solutions.
For the agricultural community, the real budget they are looking for is probably in regard to what the carbon budget is going to be in the next few months. We should take into consideration that over 5,000 people were at a march in Cork last Friday night, with families and everyone from three-year-olds up to grandmothers. The farming community are very concerned about where that carbon budget is going. It is a real issue for the community.
On the agricultural front, €1 million was budgeted last year for the food ombudsman and €4 million has been provided this year but we have no legislation and it is not even on the legislative programme for this Dáil term. We need clarity on when the Government is going to put legislation on the Statute Book in regard to the food ombudsman, which is the game changer. We have had funding for it in two budgets but we have no legislation.
I seek clarity in regard to the flat rate of VAT on agricultural products, which has decreased by 0.1%, as that will literally take €7 million out of the agriculture budget. What are the macroeconomics behind that equation? I sought clarity today and I got very little response.
The Minister of State might also bring clarity to the sports capital grants and where they are going to lie in the budget. There is talk of a slight increase. Will money be used that has not been used previously, in other words, moneys that have not been claimed? We must ensure we have a significant budget when it comes to sports capital grants.
I hope the Finance Bill will give us clarity on the zoned land initiative, where we are putting in place a 3% tax. Will the Minister of State clarify how that will work where significant services have not been put in place, for example, Irish Water services for water and sewerage? Will the tax be applicable in that scenario or when a county development plan is drafted and there is a development boundary, not zoned land, but where it is still land for development? What is the definition of zoned land going to be? I realise the Chair is caught for time so I will leave my time to other speakers.