While Budget 2021 is looking to the combined challenges of Brexit, Covid and housing it fails to bring about structural change to our economy to make it more sustainable for all sectors of our economy, according to Denis Naughten TD.
“While Budget 2021 talks about reforming motor tax and VRT and further sets out increases of carbon tax up to €100/tonne, it fails to introduce these taxes in a manner that will drive change by focusing on congestion and instead just looks at the consumption of fuel. This penalises 37% of our population who live in rural areas and who don’t have alternative modes of transport, who are not having their broadband delivered quicker and who are not being provided with new supports to work remotely,” stated Denis Naughten.
“We should be introducing environmental taxes that ensure people who have alternatives options available to them are taxed if they don’t take those options, instead of taxing those who don’t have alternatives options by more than those who have the choice to avoid such taxes.
“While Budget 2021 talks about an inter-departmental group considering remote working, there are no new provisions being made and the funding for the National Broadband Plan is unchanged from the spend I had previously secured as Minister. As a result, disappointingly, there is no indication of a fast-tracking of the delivery of broadband to isolated rural homes as promised in the Programme for Government.
“Budget 2021 also talks about a ‘Recovery Fund’ but there is little detail of what it will do to reform our economy to live with Covid-19, to allow more people to work and study remotely or to support new ways of doing business.
“While the investment in housing is welcome, it won’t deliver in the short term. As a short-term measure, we need to encourage families living in our cities to give up their homes and relocate to rural towns and villages, to streets that have not seen a football kicked on them in a generation, while easing pressure in our cities now.
“There is no doubt that additional funding has been secured for health and disability services, but it is vital that this funding is converted into the delivery of services to those who need them.
“While funding is being provided to address the impact of Covid-19 across various sectors of our economy, which is welcome, the real fear is that it will not prepare any of these sectors for the new reality post-Covid and post-Brexit.
“While I will work with Government to ensure that the funding made available is utilised to achieve these goals, I am worried that Budget 2021 is more about tinkering at the edges rather than they type of reform that can bring life back into regional Ireland while responding to the challenges of Covid-19,” concluded Denis Naughten.