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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Finance (Covid-19 and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021

KPMG has issued an informative report on today’s Finance (COVID19 and miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

They call it “an important step in providing clarity and support for businesses as they reopen and resume normal trading following Covid 19 restrictions”.

I agree. I agree that businesses require clarity. I agree that businesses require our further support. I agree that this is what this bill aims to achieve.

However, I do not agree that we are working towards reopening and resuming trade for business in this country.

I do not agree that more money equates to more clarity or support. I do not agree with all aspects of this bill.

For example, I do not agree with the fact that the government refuses to rectify and continues to cover up the economic mess which Covid 19 restrictions have caused.

Extending support are necessary as we continue to leave enterprise in this country in complete darkness.

Extending support will keep them floating, in this uncertainty the government has created. However, extending support is not a fix. Support is not indefinite. And financial supports use taxpayers money to mask the problems that the government won’t face. Over the last 18 months businesses in the service industry have not known when they can open or how long they can remain open for.

And we do face problems. Per head of population Ireland is set to have the highest debt in Europe this year. According to officials in the department of finance, it will also be one of the highest per capita debts in the world. And this debt is not forecast to fall.

This debt is forecast to rise. We are 20,000€ above the EU average and we will be even more above this average unless we take action. What does action mean?Action does not mean more financial support. Action does not mean wait and see. Action means open up. Action means get business back. Action means changing course because the one we are on is clearly not working. If the government refuses to take action then this bill is necessary. We cannot let business suffer at the hands of government imposed restrictions on their trade. However, there is a provision in this bill which cannot be supported in or out of a lockdown which I want to speak on.

That is section 15 of the bill. Section 15 which allows vulture funds to profit from their bulk purchasing of housing in this country. How long have we spent telling the government that this is wrong ? How long have we discussed vulture funds and cuckoo funds? How long are we going to have to talk about them still? The Minister for Finance placed a

10% stamp duty on these bulk purchases a short while ago. He claimed this would be a “deterrent” for developers who buy up all of our residential property in this country. But now, going back on their assurances, the government have devised section 15. Section 15 which states that if the houses that vulture funds snap up are leased back to the local authority, the stamp duty is dropped. The vulture funds profit. The housing crisis continues. We adopt short term solutions in this country. I have said it before and now

I have to say it again. The bill masks one problem - the troubling economic situation that we are ignoring - and it creates another - an opportunity for vulture funds to profit. This is not a viable way to legislate. Businesses need our support. But support is more than money. Support is action and that support doesn’t involve giving vulture funds a free pass.

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