Budget 2014 has been crafted in as fair a manner as possible, which will allow for the progress we are making getting people back to work to continue while putting our country in the best possible position for exiting the troika bailout programme and regaining our economic sovereignty.
Despite significant economic pressure the Government has: protected core social welfare rates; protected child benefit rates; protected pupil teacher class ratios; protected Student Grant levels; protected the €1.3 billion budget for Special Needs and Learning Resource education; protected the weekly fuel allowance rates; and announced free GP Care for every child under the age of six.
The Government has also delivered on its commitment not to increase income tax rates and bands while also introducing a €500 million package of 25 measures which will help entrepreneurs and small to medium sized local businesses to continue to protect and to create jobs. The new Home Renovation Incentive will create employment in the construction industry and will help homeowners to make valuable improvements to their homes while the retention of the 9% Tourism VAT rate is a hugely positive measure.
Commented the Fine Gael TD for Galway West, Sean Kyne: “Budget 2014 is a critical step in exiting the bailout and recovering our economic sovereignty. The measures announced today by Ministers Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin are specifically about nurturing the progress we are already seeing.
“I am delighted that Minister Noonan has decided to retain the lower 9% VAT rate for tourism services, which has no doubt played a significant role in boosting visitor numbers here over the last two years. Minister Noonan has listened to those involved in the industry, as well as his Fine Gael Party colleagues, and has taken the pragmatic decision to extend the VAT rate and abolish the air travel tax. This will safeguard jobs in the sector and come as very welcome news to everyone involved in the tourism industry in the West.
“Additionally, the measure to provide free GP care for children aged five and under is the first step towards providing free GP care to each and every person in the country, ending the existing two tier system. It is recognition that medical attention and intervention as early as possible is best for everyone in the long run.
“Budget 2014 continues the focus of this Government on getting people back to work. The efforts are starting to pay off with unemployment falling for the past 15 consecutive months and 3,000 additional jobs now being created every month. Some 4,200 jobs have been created in the West over the past 12 months while recent figures showed a 7.5% fall in the live register figures for Galway city.
“There is still much work to be done,” concluded Deputy Kyne, “but Budget 2014 contains many measures which promote job creation and retention, protect the vulnerable, ensure those most able to contribute do so and above all enable us to be the first in Europe to exit the troika bailout programme and to regain our economic sovereignty.”