Budget Tries To Shift Cost Of Brexit And Climate Change On To Workers

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Pascal Donoghue is being praised in the mainstream media for his ‘prudent’ budget. The reality is however, that it is a blatant class biased budget that is using the Brexit and climate crisis to hit workers and the poor.

Here is what he is up to:

LOOKING AFTER HIS OWN: The Central bank has predicted that tens of thousands of jobs will be lost if there is a no deal Brexit. But instead of taking any measures to create jobs, Donohoe has used the crisis to benefit it his rich friends.

€80 million, in a full year, will be given to support small business and agriculture. But instead of tying any grant to a guarantee that jobs will be retained, Donohoe is giving handouts to company executives.

  • He is using the cover of Brexit to extend a notorious Special Assignee Relief Scheme that allows company executives who earn more than €75,000 a year to cut their tax bill by 30% when they gain over that figure. This scheme which was due to be phased out but it is now extended until 2022.
  • He is giving more tax breaks to companies that pay their executives in share options through a Key Employee Engagement Programme.
  • He is giving tax reliefs to high-flyers who travel back and forth to countries like China. Just 144 people availed of this scheme in 2014, gaining them a tax break of up to €35,000 each.
  • He is giving tax relief to bookies so that they get €50,000 in relief from paying a betting duty.

HITTING WORKERS AND THE POOR: In a disgusting move, Donoghue has stopped a 30 cent increase on the minimum wage. He is making the workers who get just €9.80 an hour bear the cost of the Brexit crisis.

The Living Wage Technical Group have calculated that the Minimum Essential Living Standard that will provide a Living Wage is €12.30 an hour.

A no deal Brexit is going to lead to higher prices – and therefore a government which cared for its people would have given tax relief to workers. Yet Donohoe has not given a penny to PAYE workers.

PAYE workers are paying €8 billion more in taxes than they did before the economic crash. This has occurred because of the introduction of the USC tax and the reduction in tax credits.

Donohoe could have put money back in workers’ pockets so that they could afford higher prices – and help keep an economy going. But instead, he chose to look after his wealthy friends instead.

Pensioners in Ireland are often in dire poverty and many had hoped that they could get an extra €5 a week to help them. But Donohoe gave nothing.

There is nothing for carers or people with disability- despite the fact that there are notorious waiting times for assessments, even though this is against the government’s own laws.

A measly €20 million has been given to implement the Slainte care report when it is estimated that it should cost € 3 billion in capital funding and €2 billion in extra running costs to move to a one tier health system.

CLIMATE CHANGE HYPOCRISY: This government’s only answer to climate change is to slap an extra €6 tax on every ton of carbon. This means a 2 cent a liter increase on the price of petrol and home heating oil.

Donohoe has made it clear that this is only the start of tax hikes that will last until 2030. By the time he has finished, many will be paying an extra €500 to €1,000 a year in tax.

Donohoe claims that this will be an incentive to change behavior. But there is already a carbon tax on petrol – and still the numbers of cars on Irish roads has doubled.

Ireland is one of the most car depend societies in the world – because investment in public transport is so low.

Dublin has the highest bus fares in Europe – double the EU average. And there are not enough buses because 300 buses were cut from the fleet by the last Fianna Fail-Green government.

In rural Ireland, public transport is almost non-existent outside the main towns.

Fine Gael’s gross hypocrisy on climate change is shown by the fact that they refused to put an aviation fuel tax on companies like Ryanair. Such a tax could have raised €900 million and provide resources to move to free public transport.

They are giving relief from the carbon tax to those who use agricultural diesel – while slapping it on those who must use cars. And of course, they are blocking all measures that would leave fossil fuels in the ground.

Despite all their talk of climate action, the CSO estimates that these measures give €4 billion annually as subsidies in energy and agriculture that worsen our emissions.

Just like on Brexit their aim is to make the poor pay for the crisis.

WE NEED GREEN JOBS

With Brexit and the climate crisis, we needed a radical change of policy to create tens of thousands of green jobs.

  • Irish homes are among the least energy efficient in Europe – so we need a massive state-run retrofitting programme.
  • Our electricity is far too dependent on fossil fuels – so we need public investment in alternative renewable energy that could create thousands of jobs.
  • The country is facing a massive housing crisis – and thousands of jobs could be created if a publicly owned building company was set up to construct social and affordable homes.
  • In their time in power, Fine Gael have given €4bn in rent to private landlords- enough to build 20,000 homes.

There is plenty of money available to fund programmes like these – if only we had a government that was not beholden to the rich.

  • We could stop spending millions on legal fees – and take the €14 billion that Apple in back taxes.
  • We could stop the banks we bailed out getting away with tax free profits. If we closed the loopholes they gained from past losses, we could raise an extra €900 million.
  • We could introduce a wealth tax and higher incomes taxes for those earning over €80,000 a year.

All of these measures would provide real answers to the twin crises of Brexit and climate change.  Donohoe, however, prefers to use these as excuse to pursue his blatant class agenda.