Budget 2017 will bring significant benefits to rural communities in Clare with substantial funding directed at creating jobs and attracting investment to areas outside the major urban centres.
That’s the view of Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey who said he welcomed the budget’s concentration on rural and regional development which, he said, would bring major opportunities for rural Ireland and the farming sector.
“Budget 2017 will facilitate the development of an Action Plan for Rural Development that will co-ordinate and implement initiatives to support economic and social progress in rural Ireland.
“I know that access to high speed and reliable broadband is a major issue for many people in rural areas of the county and I’m happy that funding has been provided for the continued roll out of the National Broadband Plan to deliver high speed broadband to every home and business in the State,” he said.
“Budget 2017 also increases funding to the Rural Development Programme by €107 million to €601 million in 2017. This includes provision of €25 million for a new Animal Welfare Scheme for Sheep along with funding to implement the Seafood Development Programme.
“I’m particularly delighted to see the maintenance of the 9 per cent VAT on tourism related businesses which will have a positive impact for many in rural Ireland.
The package of measures to assist the farming and agri-food sector, include:
•Allowing a farmer facing an exceptionally poor year to “step out” of income averaging and pay only the tax due on a current year basis with any deferred tax liability becoming payable over subsequent years. This facility will be available immediately and should provide cash-flow assistance this year.
•Increasing the flat-rate addition for farmers not registered for VAT from 5.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent with effect from next January.
•Extending farm restructuring relief to the end of 2019.
•Making payments under the new raised bog restoration incentive scheme exempt from Capital Gains Tax.
• An income tax credit for fishermen, aimed at assisting the viability of the sector and at attracting and retaining staff.
•Improvements in the means testing arrangements for lower-income farmers on Farm Assist, including farm families with children.
•Expansion of the Rural Social Scheme by 500 places.
“To further support farmers, the EU exceptional adjustment aid will be used to develop, in conjunction with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, a loan fund that will be low cost (below 3 per cent per annum) and highly flexible. These loans will enable farmers to improve the management of their cash flow and reduce the cost of their short term borrowings.
“This budget delivers for farmers and is another important step forward in supporting rural Ireland. We cannot achieve all we want to in one year, but we are using the benefits of a strong economy to improve people’s lives,” Deputy Carey concluded