Independent TD Mattie McGrath has criticised the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohue, for refusing to accept a number of amendments to the Finance Bill, 2019, that were aimed at introducing alleviating measures for rural dwellers and farm contractors. Deputy McGrath was speaking after a lengthy debate in the Oireachtas Finance Committee which saw the Minister set his face against accepting the vast majority of amendments submitted by opposition TD’s:
“The experience of most of us who attended the Committee was one of unrelenting frustration at the inability or unwillingness of Minister Donohoe to understand the reality of living and working in rural Ireland.
My own amendments specifically sought relief from large conglomerates who are snatching up every available acre of land in rural Ireland and who are pushing small farmers and even entire communities into hardship. Yet it was ruled out of Order because it imposed a charge on these people.
Ordinary people simply cannot compete against the resources of these enormous organisations. It is a pity the Minister could not see that.
I also attempted to have the purchase of marked Gas Oil by a haulier subject to a rebate system that can be claimable against Income Tax Payable; but again the Minister decided against it despite the clear damage this is going to do the Farm Contractors of Ireland.
I also sought to introduce a tax credit that can be claimed whereby travel to work is in excess of 15,000km per annum. This would have specifically assisted all those rural workers who are stuck in long and unavoidable commutes or those who have to use a vehicle of one kind or another for long journeys as part of their work, including transporting animals.
It is absolutely ironic that I had only recently asked the Minister for details on the rural proofing analysis conducted by his Department prior to the publication of measures contained in Budget 2020.
I was assured at that point that a wide ranging analysis was performed.
However, from his performance and attitude yesterday it is clear that the department really forgot to give him the memo,” concluded Deputy McGrath.