independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Healy-Rae hits out over 50pc rates proposal

PRESSURE is continuing to mount in Kerry this week for a reversal of the Government plan to impose 50 per cent commercial rates on unoccupied premises in the county.

PRESSURE is continuing to mount in Kerry this week for a reversal of the Government plan to impose 50 per cent commercial rates on unoccupied premises in the county.

Business leaders and politicians are continuing to wage a campaign against what they see as yet another tax on struggling business and property owners in the county.

The issue was raised in the Dáil by Independent South Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, who called on the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Phil Hogan to step back from the brink and withdraw his proposals.

"This is not just morally wrong but it surely could not be legally correct to charge someone for a business that has perhaps failed and gone broke, and they are now being asked to pay rates on the property," Deputy Healy-Rae said.

However Minister Hogan stood by the controversial plan saying it would bring local authorities in line with processes already successfully in place in Dublin, Limerick City and Cork City.

The Local Government Act 1946 provides that the owners of vacant commercial properties are entitled to a 100 per cent refund if their premises is unoccupied for the purpose of additions, alterations or repairs; where they are unable to obtain a suitable tenant or where a premises is vacant pending redevelopment. However, the proposed new provision will reduce this refund from 100 per cent to just 50 per cent.

"I am fully aware of the difficult economic environment in which many businesses and property owners continue to operate. I intend that this provision should not be interpreted as a further cost on business," Minister Hogan said in reply to the Dáil question by Deputy Healy-Rae.

"I gave a commitment to the House to revert to this matter again as the Bill makes its way through the Oireachtas to ensure that there are no unintended consequences in how the provision should work in practice," he added.

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