Mixed reaction to Budget 2013 measures

From RTE News

The measures announced in Budget 2013 have been criticised in some quarters and welcomed in others.

IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, said the  €3.5bn adjustment in Budget 2013 was a painful but necessary further step towards getting the economy back onto a sustainable footing.

IBEC Director General Danny McCoy said: “Broadening the tax base and focusing on cutting expenditure means that the direct impact on jobs has been minimised.”

SIPTU General President Jack O ’Connor criticised the abolition of the PRSI allowance, saying it was “a regressive measure which will disproportionately affect lower income families.”

He added: “It could have been offset somewhat at least for those on incomes up to average industrial earnings if the proposal for a 3% levy on all incomes over  €100,000 had proceeded.”

The Dublin Chamber of Commerce said that the Local Property Tax will hurt those who want to work the most.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, its Chief Executive Gina Quinn said the tax will be highest for those living in urban areas “where the jobs are”.

The Civil Public & Services Union described today’s budget as a missed opportunity to fundamentally redistribute the impact of the economic crisis in greater measure onto higher earners and those with wealth.

General Secretary Eoin Ronayne said lower-paid workers would suffer disproportionally as “Government has failed to place a greater burden on the higher paid letting the small person carry the can yet again”.

The Unite trade union said the Government needs to move away from accountancy-led policy and put people first.

UNITE Regional Secretary Jimmy Kelly said: “Taking more money out of empty pockets is wrong and is only accelerating the vicious cycle of austerity.”

The Irish Exporters Association gave a “strong” welcome to the Budget measures to support the export industry.

IEA CEO John Whelan said: “The decision by the Government not to increase income tax will help in terms of labour cost competitiveness and is greatly welcomed by the exporting sector.”

The St Vincent de Paul said that the increases in prescription charges, the drug payment scheme, the cost of solid fuel and the reduction in child benefit along with the abolition of the PRSI credit would have a severe effect on social welfare recipients and those on low pay.

SVP Head of Social Justice and Policy John-Mark McCafferty said he was concerned about the cumulative impact of the Budget on a wide variety of people.

The Irish National Teachers ’ Organisation welcomed the fact that there would be no increase in class sizes in larger schools, but said that further cuts to teacher numbers in small schools was flawed and misguided.

INTO General Secretary Sheilan Nunan said: “Irish class sizes are already the second highest in the EU, marginally behind the UK.”

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland said today’s Budget does nothing to address the damage done to schools, which have lost teachers and curtailed vital services.

ASTI General Secretary Pat King said: “It is important to state that some cuts announced in last year’s Budget – such as a reduction in the number of English language support teachers – will be implemented in 2013.”

Alcohol Action Ireland welcomed the Government’s decision to restore excise duties to 2009 levels.

Alcohol Action Ireland Director Fiona Ryan said: “It basically rolls excise duty back to 2009 levels when it was cut by 20% to counteract cross-border shopping generated by the euro and sterling being almost on a par.

“These currency conditions no longer exist and so neither does the justification for that excise duty cut. ”

The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland expressed extreme disappointment at the decision to increase alcohol excise.

DIGI Chairman Kieran Tobin said it will “act as a major disincentive for the Irish public and visitors to spend money in the wider hospitality sector that remains a crucial part of the economy, while simultaneously encouraging consumers to travel to Northern Ireland to purchase alcohol and other goods”.

The Irish Wine Association said the Government ’s decision to increase wine excise duty by 41% was “disproportionate, excessive, and absolutely contrary to their stated aim to support small businesses”.

Barnardos criticised what it called the “regressive, unfair and unsustainable” measures outlined in the Budget.

Barnardos CEO Fergus Finlay said: “It is outrageous that cuts to Child Benefit went ahead, especially given the recent report of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare. ”

Focus Ireland welcomed the fact that Budget 2013 included no cut to basic social welfare payments or further cuts to rent supplement.

However, it warned that Budget cuts in other areas could yet prove to be a tipping point to homelessness for some households in society.

Threshold, the national housing charity, has said some measures in the Budget may impact negatively on low-income tenants in the private rental market.

Threshold Director Bob Jordan said: “Our major concern is that some of the measures announced in relation to property ownership may impact indirectly – and very negatively – on vulnerable tenants.”

The Chairman of the Shannon Airport Aviation Business Development Task Force welcomed Michael Noonan ’s announcement of his intention to put in place measures which will assist in anchoring the aviation industry in Ireland.

Rose Hynes said: “These measures will be advantageous to our plans at Shannon to build sustainable passenger growth as well as transforming the airport into a major international centre for aviation related business.”

The Coach Tourism & Transport Council, which represents Ireland ’s independent bus and coach companies said it was surprised and disappointed that the Budget granted Ireland ’s haulage companies an excise rebate on diesel, while ignoring the passenger transport sectors.

The National Council for the Blind of Ireland welcomed the fact that there were no cuts to income supports for blind people.

However, NCBI said it was disappointed that the support for the telephone allowance has been cut.

The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) said that while the exemption for first time buyers from the local property tax is welcome, a similar exemption should have been provided for those who paid high levels of stamp duty during the housing boom.

The SCSI said that it was disappointed that property owners are liable for the Local Property Tax rather than occupiers, as it is the occupier who benefits from the local services.

Macra na Féirme National President Alan Jagoe said he was absolutely dismayed that the stamp duty relief on land transfers for young trained farmers was not renewed.

He said: “This all-important trigger mechanism which resulted in most family farms being transferred before a farmer’s 35th birthday was an essential and well-established measure to effect the early transfer of farms to the next generation.”

The Irish Medical Organisation has expressed shock at some of the health aspects of the Budget.

IMO President Dr Paul McKeown said the threefold increase in prescription charges and the withdrawal of full medical cards from many elderly people were damaging.

The National Women ’s Council has said that cuts to vital payments such as child benefit or the back to school allowance will be the tipping point into poverty for many families and must be reversed.

NWC Director Orla O ’Connor said: “More families will have to make impossible decisions between offering a healthy and warm meal for their children or going to the doctor with their sick child.”

Irish Hotels Federation Chief Executive Tim Fenn welcomed the Government’s confirmation that the reduced VAT rate of 9% for the tourism sector will continue into 2013.

He said the measure had received an overwhelmingly positive response among hotels and guesthouses.

Irish Hospital Consultants Association Secretary General Martin Varley said patient demand is growing and the Budget cuts will increase the pressure on hospital services.

He said it is now all the more important to reduce the cost of administration and increase frontline hospital staff and resources, so that consultants can treat more patients in a medically acceptable time frame.