Leitrim TD disappointed at stimulus plan

Leitrim Observer reporter

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What will happen if the inn closes for Christmas?

Deputy Martin Kenny

Martin Kenny TD said today that he is deeply disappointed with the tourism part of the so-called stimulus from government, announced yesterday.

Deputy Kenny said: “How could you not be deeply disappointed? Like the quarter of a million people who work in tourism and hospitality around the country, I had hopes that in this, at least, the government would not let us down.

“We in Sinn Féin put forward a staycation voucher scheme which would give people €200 and with a €100 voucher for each child to spend on a holiday in Ireland. It would have given people a bit of a boost in these difficult times and helped get people in the hospitality and tourism industries back to work.

“Instead, the government has given us a scheme which excludes people who don’t earn enough to pay tax, people who lost their jobs in the crisis, pensioners, carers and such.

“We hope our children will be back at school in the Autumn, but the government scheme doesn’t even start until October and even then, you could be ordering a meal in a restaurant, but not getting the tax back on it, while a high-earner at the next table could eat the same but get the 20% back, but, not until the next tax year!

“It is another example of the government having no idea of the reality of people’s lives or how people struggle to make ends meet. Really, getting your tax back on it in maybe 18 months is designed for people who have accountants, not your average pensioner or worker on the minimum wage.

“The Sinn Féin proposal would have cost €860 million and it would have benefited the sector and given working people a bit of a break.

“Tourism needed a VAT reduction from 13.5% to 9% - that would have helped keep businesses afloat.  It is a total missed opportunity. Our VAT proposal to help tourism and hospitality would have cost €180m.

“The grant scheme for small businesses is another disappointment. It is increasing grants from €250 to €550 million, a drop in the ocean. Micheál Martin went off to Brussels last weekend and looked for grants over debt and then he comes home and introduces a debt over grant scheme at the rate of four to one. Businesses can’t handle more debt.

“Our proposal was a grant package of €1.7 billion, like they did in Germany and other countries and it is what Irish business needs now, not more debt.

"The measure to start cutting Pandemic Unemployment Payments by between €50 and €100 a week from August is far from a stimulus to get money moving around the economy again.

“It is all one big disappointment.”