THE government’s tough budget for 2013 has been criticised in many quarters across the county – not least by local opposition politicians.
Among the measures unveiled by Finance Minister Michael Noonan this Wednesday afternoon was the introduction of a new property tax come next July, to the value of 0.18% of your home.
In a bid to persuade people to buy homes,the government will waive the property charge for the first year.
Meanwhile, those who refuse to pay the controversial household charge will see it doubled come next year.
Young families are set to be squeezed, as the government is to impose a €10 child benefit reduction to €130 for the first two children, a move which will see county families lose thousands a year.
There is bad news for the pub trade, with a 10c rise on a standard measure of spirits, beer and cider.
Duty on a bottle of wine is also to increase by €1. From midnight this Thursday, the price of 20 cigarettes rises by 10c, while roll your own tobacco is up by 50c per 25g pack.
Motor tax is to rise from January 1.
However, there is better news for the business community with the news that the 12% Corporation Tax is to remain unchanged, and the 9% rate of VAT for the tourist trade remaining in place.
The student contribution in higher education is to go up by €250 in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Those people who need regular prescriptions will see their monthly maximum payment excise from €132 to €144 a month.
Elderly people are to face troubled times, with the cutting of the special rate of universal social charge for over 70s with an pensionable income over €60,000. But the pension levy is to be abolished in 2014.
Fianna Fail deputy Niall Collins has accused the Labour party of “capitulation”, especially around the cuts in the income of the low paid.
“For weeks, they have talked about increasing the USC rate for those earning over €100,000. But instead of high paid earners being targeted, changes to PRSI actually mean a tax hike for the lowest paid.”
He also criticised Labour for waving through a cut in the child benefit, and recalled the party’s 2011 election pledge warning against the measures Fine Gael would bring in.
Maria Kelly, chief executive of the Limerick Chamber welcomed the retention of the nine per cent VAT rate for the hospitality sector, saying: “This will help secure employment and grow job opportunities in these areas. We are pleased that the Government took note of calls not to transfer the cost of sick pay to employers.”
However, she feels the credit initiatives for small businesses could be more ambitious.
“For instance, we welcome the raising of the turnover ceiling before companies become liable for VAT on invoices rather than on payment received. But the Chamber network called for an increase in the ceiling to €2.5m and we are disappointed it has only been increased to €1.25m.”
Cian Prendiville, who had led a campaign against the introduction of the household charge and property tax in Limerick warned the government that it will face a series of protests come the New Year.
“The property tax is set to be over €300 on the average house - people will not be fooled by the special introductory rate and the boycott of this can therefore be even larger than this year.”
Jerry O’Dea of the Limerick branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland criticised the government for not being more “creative” in spreading out excise increases.”
Noting the cut in the duration of jobseekers benefit by three months, Padraig Malone of the Limerick Centre for the Unemployed added: “We have a situation where people are going to be under pressure to prove they are running around looking for non-existent jobs. It is not a good budget”