Recently I led a delegation to Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo to promote Ireland’s International Financial Services, our IFS2020 strategy, and the European Financial Forum which I will be hosting in Dublin Castle in January. You can read more about the individual events here, here and here. (To see a press release about our overall activities, go here.)
In launching our new IFS-Ireland brand (details here) I had the opportunity to speak about the challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit, to make Ireland’s case regarding the recent Commission ruling on Apple, to highlight the strong investments already in Ireland, and to introduce Irish FinTech companies to key players in each country.
The details of the IFS2020 strategy, which aims to make Ireland the global location of choice for innovation and specialisation in financial services, and increase jobs in the sector by 30%, can be read here.
To see some pictures from the trip go here.
Banking Union in the EU is not just about supervision but it’s also about breaking the link between taxpayers and bank rescues by setting up a mutualised rescue fund – paid in to by the banks.
Recently I moved my first piece of Government legislation on behalf of the Minister for Finance, introducing the Finance (Certain European Union and Intergovernmental Obligations) Bill 2016.
This Bill will provide for a temporary loan from the Government to the rescue fund, to be used only in exceptional circumstances, and only until the rescue fund is fully in place (2024). It also has some measures to deal with white collar crime.
You can watch second stage of the debate here (at 8:13).
Our detailed discussion at committee stage is here.
Report stage sees further debate on amendments in the Dáil chamber here (at 5:13).
We discussed the Bill in the Seanad here (at 2:38) where the process continues, if there are no amendments, the Bill will be enacted.
Minister Noonan has asked me to chair a Working Group on the Cost of Motor Insurance. The Government is determined to tackle this as a priority. The group’s remit is to identify immediate and longer term measures which can address the increasing cost of premiums.
By the end of October I hope to have identified the priority actions required to tackle the high cost of your insurance and this will form the basis for an update report to the Minister for Finance. During November and December we will agree an action plan to enable the relevant Government Departments to commence the implementation of these priority actions.
The Finance Committee is holding public meetings to hear the views of interested stakeholders on the cost of motor insurance. The first meeting took place on the 7th September where I answered questions for over two hours. You can read my opening remarks to the Committee here. To watch a video of the proceedings at the Joint Committee, click here (at 3:15). And, you can watch all of the public proceedings via the Oireachtas player here. For the details of the meetings, go here.
The Government cannot set the price of premiums; what we can do is put the right people together, from Government and industry, and dedicate resources to identifying and implementing solutions that will help tackle escalating costs. This will not happen overnight but we are working day and night to solve this problem.
To read my recent opinion piece on the issue from the Irish Independent click here.
To hear our discussion on Sean O’Rourke, go here.
After many weeks of negotiations, Enda Kenny TD has been re-elected as Taoiseach and will lead the new government.
Having been involved in these negotiations, I’m very optimistic about what the new partnership government can achieve on behalf of us all over the coming months and years. Politics as we know it is hopefully about to change for the better.
For the confidence and supply arrangement with Fianna Fail, please go here.
For my thoughts on Irish Water, please go here.
For a list of the new Cabinet Members, please go here.
Following the election I was charged with producing Fine Gael’s Oireachtas Reform Programme for the new Dáil. You can read the document here.
I was delighted to be asked to sit on the Dáil Reform Committee, where we have agreed to some very important and fundamental changes to the way governments will carry out their business. The report of the Reform Committee will be presented shortly.
Recently we debated some of the changes being put forward. Watch the video here.
To read my pamphlet on the need for reform from 2013 go here.
On Thursday I spoke in the Dáil about the crisis in the Mediterranean.
Click here to watch a video of my speech or scroll down to read my comments.
I have a real problem with the word “refugee” because it is dehumanising. It is like when we use numbers – it takes away the humanity of an individual. When we say the word “refugee”, one makes associations with a person from another country, of another colour, ethnicity or creed. We do not see them as being like ourselves. They are but from a different place, from which they desperately need to get away. That is the only difference between us. Whether one says the word “migrant” or “refugee”, one is creating a distance because it interferes with our ability to face this crisis properly and deal with it. It is perhaps the greatest crisis or threat to the European Union project since its foundation. It is bigger than the euro crisis and the potential threat posed by Brexit.
Click here to continue reading.
I reflected on my involvement in the Inquiry in the Dáil and you can watch my speech here. My sincere thanks for everyone’s patience over the past 18 months as we carried out our work.
Following on from the announcement of Budget 2016 we have released a guide to how the new measures will affect you.
It covers changes in taxation, health, housing, social welfare and options for the unemployed.
To see a copy of the guide click here.
If you would like any further information on the changes please get in touch with my office.
Today I spoke on the Finance Bill in the Dáil. This Bill will give effect to the changes announced in Budget 2016.
The 2016 Budget has been announced.
While there has been significant public pressure for the government to go further than it has with today’s package, I am encouraged to note that plans for next year are progressing in a responsible way.
As a result of this budget, since 2014 through to the end of 2016, the government will have increased public spending by 4%. In the same period, revenue from taxation will have increased by 14%, and growth in the economy by 18%. This is not a giveaway budget, this is prudent. And it shows us clearly that there is scope to further reduce taxation beyond this budget.
Furthermore, this budget will reduce the annual deficit to 1.2% of GDP. The national debt will fall to the Eurozone average, below 93%. Fine Gael in government will continue to be responsible with the public finances.
The focus of this budget is to continue to foster an environment where jobs can be created and investment and productivity in the economy can be increased. With more people working, we can reduce taxation while taking more in from taxes, to put towards the public good.
Some of the headline changes which may be of interest are:
- USC reductions – the marginal rate of tax falls below 50% for all earners under €70,044. Earners above this amount will still benefit by as much as €1762, depending on their circumstances. The government has committed to bringing the marginal rate below 50% for all earners if re-elected.
- Low-paid workers – the minimum wage will rise from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour, and a further 42,500 workers will be removed from the USC.
- Self-employed – a tax credit worth €550 is being introduced for non-PAYE workers. This is the “first step” and Fine Gael will equalise taxes between PAYE workers and the self-employed if it is able to continue in government.
- Property tax – the revaluation date for the local property tax will be postponed until 2019, allowing time to reform this tax. This means the LPT will effectively be frozen until 2019 at the current valuation.
- Inheritance tax – the tax free threshold under the capital acquisition tax has been increased by €55,000 to €280,000.
- Investment taxes – a revised capital gains tax relief will be introduced from 1 January 2016. A reduced CGT of 20% will apply to the disposal in whole or in part of a business up to €1million. The 3-year tax relief for start-ups is being extended to 2018.
There are also positive developments in relation to childcare and pensions:
- The pension levy of 0.15 will end this year. State pension payments will increase by €3 a week in 2016, the first increase since 2009. The fuel allowance will also increase by €2.50 a week, and the Christmas bonus will see a threefold increase on last year to 75%.
- From now on, children will be eligible for free childcare from 3 years of age, up until they are 5 1/2 or until they start primary school. In 2016, child benefit will be €140 per month for every child. Statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks will be in place by next September.
This is all very encouraging news, particularly considering the considerable work we have been doing in the constituency to identify and effect these important changes.
Later in the week we will be re-launching TaxTransparaency.ie (see here) to show you how the government will spend your taxes, in simple euros and cents. For the full details of what was announced by the government, please click here.
If you have any specific queries regarding the changes announced today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.