Minister Tom Hayes outlines his Department’s Budget allocation

Budget measures including the suckler cow scheme, the allocation of over €105 million for the 2014 forestry programme, €10.9 million for Bord na gCon, €4.2 million for the commercial horticulture sector and over €84 million for food safety, animal health and welfare were announced in the Dáil by Minister of State Tom Hayes.

Budget measures including the suckler cow scheme, the allocation of over €105 million for the 2014 forestry programme, €10.9 million for Bord na gCon, €4.2 million for the commercial horticulture sector and over €84 million for food safety, animal health and welfare were announced in the Dáil by Minister of State Tom Hayes.

Speaking during the Budget debate, he said over €105 million has been allocated to the forestry sector, which is more than half of the Department’s capital allocation. This will be enough to maintain the 7,000 hectares of new planting which is consistent with the figure for the previous two years.

“I welcome the funding for the forestry programme which encompasses the provision of grants for the establishment of new forestry, the payment of forestry premiums and the continuation of other forest support schemes such as the forest road scheme which has been allocated an increase in funding.”

He was pleased the Government has been able to commit €105 million towards its continued development.

Minister Hayes said he was pleased the Government will continue to support the greyhound racing industry through the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund.

“Bord na gCon estimates that the industry supports in excess of 10,000 jobs and provides €500 million in economic output. I want to ensure this indigenous industry is appropriately structured to face the challenges that lie ahead. Accordingly, I have arranged that the Department will commission a wide ranging review of Bord na gCon. The call for tenders document has been issued. I have also arranged that stakeholders will have an opportunity to make their contribution to the review. Submissions received will be provided, without comment, for the successful tenderer for consideration. The closing date for receipt of submissions from stakeholders is 22 November 2013.”

He said he was delighted support for specialised capital investments has been increased by almost 30%, with €4.2 million allocated to the scheme of investment aid for the development of the commercial horticulture sector in 2014.

“Given the improved economic situation, I am delighted to be in a position to significantly increase the level of funding available for this competitive grant aid scheme. It represents the main source of State funding for horticultural producers and is seen as vital to improving growers’ competitiveness, as well as the quality of output. It also allows growers to innovate and diversify production in a sector where output per annum is approximately €300 million at farm gate level, with further gross value added of approximately €70 million. I intend to launch the 2014 scheme in the next month.”

Budget targets the sickest and poorest in society - Healy

Budget 2014 targets the sickest and poorest in our society, the young, the squeezed middle, the elderly - and even the dead, Deputy Seamus Healy told the Dáil.

Some 20,000 families will lose the bereavement grant in 2014t, he said. During the 2011 General Election campaign the Labour Party and Fine Gael sought a mandate to burn the bondholders, not to give another cent to the banks, said it would be Labour’s way, not Frankfurt’s way and that the vulnerable would be protected. They broke all those promises long ago and robbed the clothes of Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

“They have cynically and deliberately reneged on those commitments and targeted the most vulnerable in our society,” he said. “This Budget takes from those on low and middle incomes here and gives to the very rich at home and abroad. Next year €9 billion will be paid out to service the debt on borrowed money to bail out rich investors on the one hand and to subsidise the low-taxed rich here at home.”

As the Government regularly says, somebody has to pay, he said. “Why,” he asked, “must the poor, and low-income and middle-income families always pay? Why do the rich and powerful always get away scot free? Not long ago then Minister Deputy Joe Costello told us here that Ireland was the seventh wealthiest country in the world. Not long ago the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan told me the top 10,000 earners in this country earn €595,000 each per year and that the top 20,000 earn €437,000 each per year. Why is there no higher rate of income tax for these people who are not paying their fair share of taxation? Why is there no wealth tax to ensure they pay their fair share? The wealthiest 10% of people in this society have increased both their incomes and assets during this recession.”

The only thing this Budget does for jobs is to guarantee that jobs in the public service would be eliminated and that the money taken out of the pockets of those on low and middle incomes will depress demand and eliminate jobs in the private sector, he said. The only way to create sustainable jobs is for the State to invest in publicly-owned modern industry, but the Government is ideologically opposed to that.

“Over-dependence on Foreign Direct Investment has placed our people at the mercy of others,” he said. “This Budget has a raft of broken promises. One was made by the Labour Party at every door during the last general election campaign when they knocked and said they would not touch child benefit. They reversed that last year with savage cuts on child benefit. From 1 January 2014 there will be more child benefit cuts. Fourth and subsequent children will lose €10 per month.”