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Sunday 22 October 2017

Noonan hopes to boost jobs with €500m incentive plan

Budget to target labour-intensive areas in construction and tourism

Fionnan Sheahan and Michael Brennan

THE Government will attempt to give a boost to the economy today with a €500m jobs budget.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan's jobs budget will target labour-intensive areas in construction and tourism and aim to boost economic growth.

Aside from incentives to create jobs, there will also be spending allocations to so-called 'shovel-ready' building projects that can start straight away.

Described as a jobs initiative, after previously being called a jobs budget, the plan will not contain tax hikes, social welfare changes or specific cuts to frontline public services.

The package will be paid for through a €500m tax on pension funds, which will be counterbalanced by tax relief on contributions to private pension funds.

The coalition is hoping the plan will act as a vote of confidence for consumers and businesses as well as encouraging employers to employ more staff.

Ministers are wary about putting precise figures on the number of jobs to be created.

There will be no changes to tax or social welfare in the jobs budget.

The jobs initiative will include:



  • Loan guarantees and micro-loans for small businesses.
  • A reduction in employers' PRSI and the lower rate of VAT.
  • 5,000 internship places in companies.


Jobs will also be created by re-allocating funding to spend on:



  • Retrofitting of insulation on homes.
  • Extensions and repairs to schools.
  • Upgrading of local roads.


Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton will also point to specific measures aimed at assisting the business sector.

In the tourism sector, the airport travel tax will be scrapped in return for new routes to bring in overseas visitors.

Transport and Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar will also announce a review of airport charges to bring in more flights and a fund to specifically advertise new airline routes to overseas visitors.

Levy

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said last night that his party was worried about the Government's plan to use a "regressive" levy on private pension funds to pay for the jobs initiative.

He said it would cause problems down the road for people who had planned for their retirement -- and suggested the Government was doing it because "nobody will notice".

"That's why it's politically attractive to go down this route," he said.

Mr Martin said his party had not promised a jobs plan during the general election and would have instead concentrated on reducing the budget deficit.

"Jobs will be created by getting the environment right," he said.

Irish Independent

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