Seanad debates

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Budget 2022: Statements (Resumed)

 

10:30 am

Photo of Ossian SmythOssian Smyth (Dún Laoghaire, Green Party)

Senator Cummins asked about the closure of banks. An Post has stepped in and said that it will run services for one of the major banks. An Post reports to the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Naughton. She has been dealing with An Post management and workers and can inform the Senator on that matter.Senator Lombard also asked about the hospitality VAT rate, which is the same thing, and about what happens to the unspent sports capital grants. I will have to come back to him on that one. He also wished to know the definition of zoned land that is serviced. That is actually something I also want to find out because it is absolutely key. The existing vacant site levy has not worked. It does not raise money. People say it was at a 7% rate but it was 7% of nothing. I am reading it collected €21,000. We need a proper, effective vacant land tax that applies at any rate and brings in money and has the effect of behavioural change.

The core expenditure funding set aside is €80.2 billion. That provides resources to deliver public services and infrastructure that can provide opportunities for children and a better quality of life. In committing to this scale of expenditure there is an ongoing requirement to ensure value for money in the delivery of services and infrastructure projects and to ensure expenditure is having a positive impact on the lives of our people. Achieving this aim will require a focus on disciplined, accountable budget execution and delivery and ongoing reform to our public expenditure budgetary process. To maximise the impact of every euro invested as part of the new NDP, enhanced project and programme governance is being implemented and particular focus will continue to be placed on improving the delivery of investment. This will mean increasing the efficiency with which investment is delivered, while achieving greater value for money within the budget that is available. Increasing construction sector capacity, innovation and productivity will all be key to ensuring the successful delivery of the NDP. Work is ongoing in these areas to communicate with industry partners to secure the skills needed, particularly in relation to apprenticeships, and through forums such as the construction sector group and its innovation and digital adoption team. These will drive productivity improvements across the sector.

Challenges remain as we deal with recovery from the pandemic and manage the impact of Brexit. Funding set aside for Covid-19 measures and available from the Brexit adjustment reserve provide the resources to address these challenges. The steady growth in expenditure planned over the medium term provides funding to improve our public services infrastructure while ensuring we do so in a fiscally sustainable manner. Just from talking to people I feel this is a good budget. It is broad, it is prudent, it reaches a number of groups that really needed attention and it provides for people who are working and those on welfare.

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