Govt ‘subsidising problems rather than solving them’

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has accused the Government of using the Budget to deal with the incompetence of the past rather than planning for the future.

Speaking in the Dáil this morning, Mr Kenny said the Taoiseach and his ministers are simply subsidising problems rather than solving them.

He said the Government had spend the last 10 years wasting billions of euro in public money, as well as squandering opportunities to make real improvements to people’s lives.

Mr Kenny also accused the Government of failing to use the Budget to deal with Ireland’s energy needs and problems and of failing to introduce any measures to tackle homelessness.

Source: BudgetForum.com

FG Budget Reaction Part 2

Renewable energy not high enough on Cowen’s agenda – Durkan

Today’s Budget barely paid lip service to the need to end Ireland’s unsustainable dependence on foreign oil and will do little or nothing to help Ireland meet its Kyoto commitments according to Bernard Durkan TD, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Communications and Natural Resources.

‘Thanks to the lack of any political will from the Government Ireland’s CO2 emissions have risen by twice the allowable level under the Kyoto protocol since 1990. As a result, we now have to engage in expensive carbon emission trading while remaining one of the highest oil-importing countries in the world.

‘I welcome the Government’s take up of Fine Gael’s policy to reform Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) through a system of energy efficiency labelling for vehicles but why is Minister Cowen delaying the implementation of this reform until 2008?

‘This Government is clearly running out of steam and running out of ideas when it comes to renewable energy. The structures currently in place to promote the growth of bio fuels are minimal and the Government has failed to exploit our potential for renewable energy. They have failed to make the blending of fuels compulsory. If the Government was serious about renewables they would have put in place legislation to ensure that bio fuel is blended into petrol, diesel and home heating oil.

‘Had the Minister implemented this and Fine Gael’s other proposals, as contained in our Energy For the Future document, real progress could have been made. Amongst our proposals are:

– Legislate to compel all fuel retailers to blend bio fuel into fuels such as petrol, diesel & home heating oil.

– Removal of all excise duty on bio fuels produced from renewable energy crops. In practice, this would mean that producers would not have to pay excise duty on the bio-fuels, which they produce, with the knock-on effect being that consumers would enjoy cheaper fuel at the pump.

– An open public competition for Capital Start-up Grants for the establishment and operation of bio fuel processing plants.

– Require all public transport vehicles and public service vehicles to convert, where practical and feasible, to forms of bio fuel, whether in its pure form or in a blended form.

‘The Minister’s refusal to take on our proposals means our environment and our economy will suffer for another year.’

Nothing in Budget to get First-Time Buyers on property ladder – O’Dowd

Mortgage relief welcome but will be wiped out by tomorrow’s interest rate increases

Today’s announcement on Mortgage Interest Relief, while welcome, will be wiped out by the ECB’s likely decision tomorrow to increase interest rates according to Fine Gael Environment Spokesman Fergus O’Dowd TD.

Deputy O’Dowd added that there is absolutely nothing in today’s Budget to address the ‘affordability gap’ that is leaving thousands without a home and that not one single extra affordable house will be built as a result of what was announced today by Minister Cowen.

‘The doubling of mortgage interest relief is welcome but once one looks past the Minister’s soundbites the reality become clear. This increase represents €15 a week for first-time buyers and will be wiped out tomorrow by interest rate increases.

‘This Government has failed to control runaway house prices – the price of a house in Dublin has gone from an average of €88,000 ten years ago to over €400,000 today and the ratio of disposable personal income to house prices now stands at an outrageous 11:1.

‘That there is absolutely nothing to address these problems and help our young people get on the property ladder highlights the inability of this Government to implement meaningful reform and that it is fast running out of steam. Once again Part V of the Planning and Development Act – designed to provide 20 per cent social and affordable housing – has been ignored in the Budget.

‘Having failed to convince the Minister, Fine Gael will now take its proposals to the people at the next election. Specifically, we will implement a three point plan for First Time Buyers that will:

– Reform Stamp Duty and increase the exemption threshold to at least &€400,000
– Frontload Mortgage Interest Relief to the first seven years of a mortgage to give new homeowners the help they need when they need it.
– Establish an SSIA-type saving scheme to help young people save for a deposit

‘We will also end the practice of allowing developers hand over cash instead of providing desperately needed affordable housing. We will also offer incentives for those already in houses too big for their needs to trade-down.

‘The Finance Minister had a real opportunity to radically reform the housing sector today but instead he showed absolutely no innovation, ignored first-time buyers trying to get on the ladder and provided existing young mortgage holders with a boost that will last all of 24 hours.’