Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has defended the Government’s rollback on carbon tax as he faced questions from the public on Budget 2019.
The Fine Gael minister appeared on the RTÉ’s Today Seán O’Rourke show this morning to take questions from the public.
Tansey from Donegal took the minister to task on the backtracking on Carbon Tax which had long been flagged.
The young woman, from Buncrana, said she was not expecting personal gains in the budget and didn’t mind that but was happy to absorb the extra costs of a Carbon Tax.
“I just wanted to see action... Is the Government so frightened of the wrath of the voting public that you’ll take no action about climate change?,” she asked the minister.
The country would be with the government if “big and bold changes” were brought forward she went on to say.
However, Mr Donohoe defended the move and said:
“It wasn’t a non-decision, I made a decision not to do it.”
He was reluctant to introduce changes without a long-term consensus in the Dáil he said, citing Brexit as another factor that fed into his deliberations on the tax.
In his experience, he said, short term taxation measures do not work.
The minister also faced harsh criticism from business people who will be affected by the increase in vat from 9pc to 13.5pc.
Two restaurants and a hairdresser contacted the show to outline their concerns about the tax hike and what it would mean for their business.
Michael Ryan, from Cork, described the move as a “body blow” and said it would lead to restaurants moving away from local suppliers and could have a knock on effect for jobs.
The minister also heard from Orla who earns €32,000 per year but struggles due to medical costs and other living costs.
Her net increase from the budget would be €4 per month, she said.
“Where does that leave me? You’re talking about middle income workers but I’m not one of them but neither am I on the social welfare scale?
“You haven’t helped us.”
Mr Donohoe spoke about measures introduced such as a reduction in the prescription charges for elderly people and the increased availability of GP visit cards but conceded that the caller would not see the benefit of those.
So I have to just put up and shut up... the implication is there, there’s nothing you can do because it costs too much. So ‘you just suffer on, go to work, work your socks off but you get nothing in return because we can’t afford it.’,” she said.
"What we did yesterday is I put in place an income tax package of €290m, a large section of which was reducing the USC for you...We have reduced the USC to try and deal with the very issue you are [raising] there,” he said.
The inspirational deaf-blind activist Helen Keller said the only thing worse than being blind was having sight but no vision. Leadership requires something visionary - it is an impoverished facsimile of leadership which lacks that combination of forethought and imagination.
Analysis & Overview
With Brexit looming, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe sought to bolster his reputation for prudence by allocating €500m in 2019 - half the amount originally planned - to a "rainy day" fund to supplement €1.5bn from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund so as to deal with severe economic shocks.