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Noonan bids to revive rural high streets with tax breaks


Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is preparing plans for the Budget to help revive the main streets in rural towns across the country, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The plans, which are to involve the awarding of tax credits to those who are willing to renovate or take over premises, are part of a five-pronged strategy to promote recovery throughout the economy.

Mr Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin will not go beyond the additional spending target of €1.5bn, despite mounting pressure from other Cabinet ministers and TDs to increase spending.

While the vast bulk of Mr Noonan's €750m tax package will be used up to reduce the impact of the Universal Social Charge, sources have said the veteran minister is keen to address the phenomenon of "ghost towns".

"Noonan wants to do this in the Budget to look after the self-employed, young people coming home from abroad, something for the grey vote and something for the towns and (to) revive the main street of towns across the country," a senior Government source said.

"He wants to do something that plays its part in getting the main street alive again," said the source.

"This is his five-point plan to help struggling parts of the economy."

But commuters look set to be the major beneficiaries of the Government's Capital Spending plan, which will now be launched next month. It is expected that significant additional spending on major capital projects will now be announced, with transport to be the major winner.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said at the weekend that he favours a heavy rail link from the centre of the capital to Dublin Airport.

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