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Chamber president sees ‘payback for NAMA’ in Budget

ELEMENTS of the budget were welcomed by Shannon Chamber president Ian Barrett at a breakfast briefing for members held last Thursday morning, as the country absorbed the detail of Brian Lenihan’s figures.
“The chamber welcomes steps to take control of the public finances. It sends out the message that we are serious about it internationally,” he commented.
He welcomed the message that corporation tax wasn’t being increased, saying the existing low rate was the single biggest factor in bringing foreign direct investment to Ireland.
Mr Barrett welcomed the rates freeze in Clare. “Shannon Chamber lobbied hard on rates and I would like to applaud Clare County Council and the councillors for passing a zero per cent increase in rates and a three per cent cut in water rates.” He also welcomed a package for flooding relief and prevention.
A presentation on the budget was given by Lesley Barrett and Eamonn Murphy of Grant Thornton.
The credit review system mentioned in the Budget was described as a ‘payback for NAMA’, in the sense that it was aimed at getting financial institutions lending again.
The fact that statistics are to be published about bank lending was described as a positive by Mr Murphy, as it will show the real picture regarding lending.
“If you go to certain business events you hear people from the different banks all saying that they’re open for business, but ten you hear ten different anecdotes that tell you otherwise.”
Mr Murphy said that VAT could have been cut more.
“If more was taken off it could have generated spending and generated more revenue.”
He also said that the €10 air travel tax may well be self-defeating, as more revenue could be generated if tourists were encouraged to come in.
He also criticised the cuts in tax relief on pension contributions. “We keep hearing about the pensions time bomb so this is a step in the wrong direction unless something is done to counteract it.”
Lesley Barrett joked about the domicile levy on non-resident nationals, “Bono must be quaking in his boots,” he said. While he doubted the capacity of the move to raise significant sums, he said that politicially it was necessary to do something.
Chamber vice-president Damian Leahy closed the meeting saying that membership had gone up during 2009. “We’ve added 30 members during the year and it’s now at an all time high of 200.”

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