Kenny pledges €350m for jobs by July 1
Fine Gael leader plans to abolish travel tax
FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny has pledged to introduce a Special Jobs Budget and cancel the travel tax within a hundred days of getting into power. The party is promising to pump €350m into a range of measures aimed at job creation and boosting local businesses before July 1, 2011.
The probable new Taoiseach has also said that if airlines like Ryanair and Aer Lingus meet targets agreed with government, he will abolish the travel tax.
"We will bring in a budget saying, here are measures the Government is now taking to create the environment to make it easier to hold on to employees, or take on more," said Mr Kenny in an exclusive interview.
"This is about creating jobs and increasing confidence, keeping down tax rates, lessening the debt of people and giving credit to business, to getting people working, that's what it all comes back to, no matter what you do, or where you go, it's jobs, jobs, jobs," said Mr Kenny.
He revealed a range of measures aimed at restoring both public and business confidence.
• Vat on labour-intensive industries such as construction, hairdressing, newspapers and the leisure and tourism sector will be brought from 13.5 per cent to 12 per cent until 2014.
• Employers' PRSI (8.5 per cent) will be reduced by 50 per cent for new and existing employees earning up to €365 a week.
• Service companies exporting more than 90 per cent of their product will be Vat-free.
• A system of credit insurance will be introduced for small business.
The plan will be funded by a 0.5 per cent levy on pensions funds which has already been agreed by the industry, instead of a previous Fianna Fail measure halving tax relief on pensions.
"Every coffee shop, every hotel, everybody involved in the travel and leisure and tourism, newspapers, hairdressing salons, they say to me, that's brilliant, do it. And I'll take on another person or two and the impact of one being taken on by every small business is incredible," said Mr Kenny.
"It is part of our five-point plan which interlinks about creating jobs and increasing confidence, keeping down tax rates, lessening the debt of people and giving credit to business to getting people working.
"What the next government must start to do is shift the country in the direction it should be going. There are hundreds of thousands of people out there for whom politics is meaningless; we need a new Dail, a new plan. I think in our five-point plan that is central to it, first and last."
On plans to abolish the travel tax, he said if airlines operating into Ireland agree to restore cancelled routes, the tax will be abolished.
"If we can bring in more passengers, a million or whatever it is, the impact on the Kerry economy or the Dublin economy is worth it,"he said.
Mr Kenny also promised an internship programme for graduates, architects, engineers and graphic designers, which will take in 5,000 people to try and get them on the employment ladder.
"What this is saying to them is 'you have a qualification, you have been to college you don't have to go away now.' These are not full-time jobs, but they are building on the experience that people have got," he said.