Delivering major infrastructure projects, such as the Port of Galway, and extending the waiver on commercial rates to 12 months for businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic are essential if the west of Ireland is to thrive in the future.
This is the view of the Galway Chamber in it's pre-Budget 2021 submission to the Government. The Budget will be announced from 1pm today [Tuesday October 13] by the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe.
The Chamber submission is calling for the Government to extend the waiver on commercial rates for impacted business to 12 months, with the shortfall in funding to be refunded to Local Authorities by central Government.
It also wants to see the extension of the small benefits exemption to benefit-in-kind, to allow employers give a voucher in 2020 or 2021 up to the value of €1000, which can be drawn down in two parts, on a tax-free basis, and will stimulate retail spend in local economies.
The submission also seeks pParity in acceleration funding for the regions, as per Ireland 2040 policy that State-funded programmes should focus on achieving 50 per cent growth in Dublin and 50 per cent in regions outside the capital; funding for public realm projects across Galway, with the aim of creating a more ‘liveable’ environment; and ring fencing all Exchequer returns from Carbon Tax and strategically invest in green infrastructure, public transport, and funds that will support the transition to green transport and heating alternatives.
The submission also calls for the expansion of Galway Port to facilitate larger vessels and free up inner Harbour lands for development, and strategic investment for renewable energy generation. The Programme for Government includes a provision for the development of 30GW (almost four times the national consumption ) from offshore floating wind power in Ireland's deeper waters in the Atlantic.
"Galway is the best location for this," the submission reads, "therefore, the development of the Port of Galway is imperative to service the offshore windfarms and become a large energy exporter. This is the single biggest opportunity for the West of Ireland in the coming decades."
Galway Chamber president, JP Gilmartin, said, “If we are to achieve a sustainable recovery, delivering balanced regional development, it is imperative that the Government continues to invest and deliver on the commitments of Project Ireland 2040.”
CEO OF Galway Chamber, Kenny Deery said, “Brexit, combined with the continued economic fallout from the pandemic, will make the work of the new Government even more challenging. As the consequences of these challenges unfold, we will be working closely with our members to ensure that the voices of our members are heard.”