Chamber president welcomes Budget measures but warns big challenges remain

Galway Chamber president Conor O’Dowd has welcomed the pro-business measures announced in this week’s Budget, but warned that longer term concerns of business remain.

“There is something for everyone in this Budget but the business community would have liked to see more measures to assist them as we enter an era of post-Brexit uncertainty,” Mr O’Dowd said yesterday.

“The reduction in the rate of Capital Gains Tax applied to Entrepreneur Relief from 20 per cent to 10 per cent will be welcome and of particular relevance to high potential SMEs. However we look forward to a significant increase in the lifetime limit in future budgets,” he added.

The Chamber president also welcomed the retention of the reduced VAT rate for the tourist and hospitality sectors, citing the importance of this measure for Galway and the region. Likewise, he welcomed the Help to Buy scheme under the housing initiatives put forward by the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan.

Mr O’Dowd also welcomed efforts to increase employee participation in their company’s ownership and profits, increasing competitiveness and supporting employment and growth by introducing an SME focused share-based incentive scheme for next year’s Budget, but he warned that it must be cost effective and easy to implement.

“Those positives are very welcome but we are disappointed with the level of personal tax cuts,” he added. “More needs to be done to attract and retain talent to the west of Ireland. Current tax rates remain too high and act as a brake on foreign direct investment.”

The president concluded by saying that Irish businesses are entering a potentially challenging trading environment.

“The reality is that the major concerns for the business community go beyond Budget 2017,” he warned. “Potential threats to our economic development will need strategic level interventions on issues such as maintaining our relative competitiveness with the UK, rapidly expanding our investment in infrastructure, and ensuring our export driven economy and exchequer receipts can be sustained.

“As a business community, we must stand ready to be as adaptable and flexible as we have been in the past to devise strategies to address forthcoming challenges, including those post-Brexit, as they become clearer.”

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