Alone, I suppose, among the sons of Adam, yearly I must discipline myself to the reading of what the critics said about the Budget of the preceding year. I make no merry carnival of that tedious task, for I can assure the House that there is more joy to be found in the Book of Lamentations. My toil fulfilled, however, it is a relief to pass from that realm of dark foreboding into the real and factual world; to find there, as we do to-day, that after all there has been no drying-up of revenue, no failure of the income-tax, and no unjustifiable or improvident borrowing. I admit willingly that for this satisfactory state of affairs we owe much to the general improvement in world economic conditions. But when every allowance is made for that and other circumstances, there still remains the fact that the buoyancy of the revenue has been so remarkable and so general that some part of the economic recovery which it indicates must be ascribed to the new agricultural and industrial policies which, under the leadership of the present Government, our people have adopted. A modest claim, which I think no one can gainsay.
Before dealing with the actual figures I should, perhaps, remind you that last year it was estimated that our total revenue from all sources would amount to £29,386,000.
On the other side of the account, after making the usual allowances, it was anticipated that expenditure at £29,376,000 would fall just within our revenue by £10,000.
What was the actual outcome? The revenue rose to £30,601,620 and would have exceeded even this figure by almost another £70,000 if in January last we had not remitted the coal duty. Against this we had issues from the Exchequer on account of the Central Fund and Supply Services amounting to £31,106,840. But these included payments in respect of property losses compensation, and on account of land, plant and buildings for the new industrial alcohol factories, as well as for land for afforestation, and the repayment of the Dáil Eireann External Loan. All told, these amounted to £461,003; and as they are all proper to be met by borrowing, reduce the gross figure to £30,645,837. Against the actual revenue, this leaves an apparent deficit of £44,217.
The reduced figure of £30,645,837, in turn includes the sum of £2,273,000, which was actually paid out for export bounties and subsidies. As we had proposed to meet one-half of this service out of borrowed moneys, some would hold that in arriving at the final result for the year we are entitled to take our original intentions in this regard into consideration, and on that basis to say that there was a Budget surplus of £1,092,000. Not everyone will accept this view, but the figures do in any event show a reasonable margin and afford us the assurance that the Budget, which is the keystone of the public finances, was sound.
Turning now to the individual heads of revenue, Income-Tax and Surtax gave us £5,208,000 as compared with the Budget Estimate of £5,005,000 and a receipt of £4,868,000 for 1934-35. An increase of £340,000 in income-tax is an emphatic indication of the economic improvement which took place during the year. Then the yield from Corporation Profits Tax rose from £481,000 for 1934-35 to £513,000 in 1935-36, and though the receipt from Stamp Duties at £952,000 showed a falling-off, this was chargeable against the Sweepstakes Duty only, for the return from stamps on ordinary commercial transactions was up by £18,000 on the figures for the preceding year. From Estate Duties we got £1,125,000 as against a receipt of £963,000 in 1934-35, and though there was a slight falling-off in the Excess Profits Duty, nevertheless, at £227,000 it was £7,000 better than we had hoped for.
We find, therefore, that in the aggregate the Inland Revenue Taxes, being mainly taxes on income and property, last year produced 32 per cent. of the general tax revenue, or £8,025,000 as compared with the Budget Estimate of £7,630,000 and a receipt of £7,611,000 for the year 1934-35. The real extent of the improvement, moreover, was masked by the declines in the Sweepstake Duty and the Excess Profits Duty. If allowance be made for these, the yield from taxes on income and property was up by £553,000.
Before reviewing the Customs and Excise duties I may remark that the Road Fund secured £1,000,000 from the motor vehicle duties, as compared with an Estimate of £940,000 and a receipt in the preceding year of £942,000. Further signs of the improvement in business and economic conditions generally will be found in the increased receipts from the Post Office and from wireless broadcasting and in the improvement which has been manifested in the collection of land annuities and local rates.
A first glance at the figures for the Excise shows that the receipt therefrom, though £425,000 better than in the preceding year, was nevertheless £19,000 short of the Estimate at £5,980,000. The short-fall occurred under two principal heads. One was the Excise duty of 6d. per gallon on dutiable home-refined mineral hydro-carbon light oils. Here the actual receipt, at £11,365, was over £63,000 less than the Estimate, due no doubt to some delay in the refinery coming into full production. The second short-fall took place in the Excise duty on home-grown tobacco. It had been anticipated that a substantial percentage of the 1934 home crop would be cleared from bond to pay duty in 1935-36 and the Estimate was accordingly made at £160,000. The clearance in fact was much smaller, making the actual yield £32,158 or £127,842 less than the Estimate.
Some time ago when I commented on the fact that for the first time in many years the downward tendency of the beer duty seemed to have been arrested, a Deputy was moved to remark that "we were driving the people to drink!" It was a fair hit, and commenting upon it now I need only say that as an attack upon the policy of the Government, it was staggering. Perhaps also, however, I ought to add the warning that even a good thing may be said too often, before I proceed to inform the House that the Excise duty on Irish brewed beer yielded £2,754,088, which, being £86,000 up on 1934-35, was £54,000 over the Estimate and the highest yield since 1930-31. For the first time also since 1928-29 the duty on Irish-distilled spirits showed an upward tendency and gave us £1,722,474, where in the preceding year we got only £1,673,538. The return from table waters likewise expanded, the Customs duty on beer almost made a record at £225,519, and from foreign spirits we had the highest yield since 1931-32. However we may deplore it, there is but one explanation for all this: People last year had more money to spend in this way and they spent it. Even the wine duty, which had been declining from 1928-29, showed an improvement, and at £178,809 was £7,168 better than the year before.
Betting duty went up to £169,708, the highest figure reached since 1931-32. From the duty on bookmakers' premises and clubs and from licences of all descriptions, we collected £318,764 or £11,500 more than the year before. But from the entertainments duty we got only £255,291, as against an Estimate of £260,000 and £205,743 in the year before. Last year the entertainments duty on cinema shows was substantially but not altogether profitably increased.
The Excise duty on sugar, at £301,772, exceeded the Estimate by £1,772, and the preceding year's yield by £215,057. This represents not a great gain but a great loss to the Exchequer, for the Excise duty chargeable at the moment is only ½d. per lb. and must be compared with the 2¼d. per lb. levied as a Customs duty on foreign-manufactured sugar, which brought us in £653,063. I hope I shall be pardoned if I dilate a little on the question of the sugar taxes.
All sugar consumed in Saorstát Eireann is chargeable to one or other of two duties: Excise duty at the rate of ½d. per lb. if it be of Saorstát manufacture; or a Customs duty of 2¼d. per lb. if it be of foreign manufacture. From these duties the Exchequer last year secured altogether £954,835, the average rate of duty levied on all the sugar consumed being 1d. per lb.
For the greater part of 1931-32 Customs duty on foreign-manufactured sugar was charged at 1¾d. per lb., while the Excise duty, which I should emphasise is the duty which is chargeable on the Irish-made article, was ½d. per lb., just as it is now. But in 1931-32, 91 per cent. of our total consumption, or 83,500 tons, was imported from abroad as against only 32,479 tons last year. And duty at the rate of 1¾d. per lb. was collected on most of that 83,500 tons, bringing £1,331,012 into the Exchequer that year. Furthermore, duty at the rate of ½d. per lb. was charged in the same year on the 8,500 tons of home-produced sugar, which represented the remaining 9 per cent. of our total consumption, and it brought in £40,889. Thus in 1931-32, £1,371,901 was collected off 92,000 tons of sugar consumed, and the average rate of the tax was 1.6d. per lb.
The House may care now to compare the position with Northern Ireland where all foreign manufactured sugar brought in bears a tax of 1¼d. per lb. On our present yearly consumption of sugar alone an all round duty of 1¼d. would give us about £1,200,000. We could bring our revenue from sugar up to that level quite easily, therefore, and in addition reduce the present retail price of the article by 1d. or 1¼d. per lb., if we were to do as is done across the Border—import all the sugar we consume. But are we prepared to throw the beet-fields back into pasture and to leave our sugar factories to the rats and the moss?
I must refer to the duty on pig carcases and parts, which in 1934-35 brought in £289,442, before I pass to a consideration of the Customs revenue. At the date of its abolition last year it had brought in £241,249.
The Customs for the year gave us £10,223,000 against an Estimate of £9,607,000 and an actual yield in the preceding year of £9,445,552. I have already mentioned the very satisfactory returns from the Customs duties on beer and spirits, wine and other commodities. The House, therefore, will not be surprised to learn that the Customs yield from tobacco was well above the Estimate. But when I say that it was £387,754 above it, and at £4,177,754 was £500,000 more than last year, many will think of the plant not as a weed but as a mint. The tobacco duties, therefore, gave us £4,209,912. But this was not their only satisfactory feature. Last year we had to increase the tobacco duty. All other things being equal, a tax increase on any article is calculated to decrease consumption, for which when making an Estimate an allowance must be made. But what actually happened? The consumption of tobacco did not decrease; it soared to a new high level at 9,792,147 lbs. This Government has a lot to answer for. We have been told that it is driving the people to drink more, but apparently it is compelling them to smoke more as well! And there may be even worse to follow.
There is worse, in fact, because what happened with tobacco happened also with petrol. The Customs duty on the commodity produced £1,179,991, against an Estimate of £1,010,000, making with the Excise the highest yield ever recorded. It is indeed an infamous Government under which not merely are the people spending more on wines and beer and spirits, and more than ever before on tobacco and entertainment, but are spending more on motorcars and petrol as well.
Then we have sugar. Because the sugar Customs only gave £653,063 as against £1,003,743 in 1934-35, the total revenue from sugar was down by £135,623. But the consumption of sugar went up from 100,435 tons in 1934-35 to 102,304 tons in 1935-36. Incidentally the average rate of duty charged on the sugar consumed fell by 4d. per lb.
The tea duty was slightly disappointing. It gave us £353,783. We had hoped for £365,000. From cinema films we got £63,949 or £10,000 more than in the preceding year. The duty on wheat brought in £172,134. This year, due to increased native cultivation, it is not expected to yield more than £150,000. The duties on boots and shoes, clothing and apparel produced £704,389 against £816,374 in the preceding year, while the coal duty had brought in £392,644 when it was withdrawn as from 25th January last. The abolition of this tax was a heavy loss to the Exchequer and has forestalled an alternative remission of taxation which in the normal course would have been made in the present Budget. From remaining miscellaneous Customs duties we got £1,598,924. Our Estimate for them was £1,764,600.
Before I deal briefly with the position of our State debt I should refer to the conversion of the First National Loan. The operation was undertaken last December and its success surpassed our most sanguine hopes. No less than 93.6 per cent. in number of the holders, representing 97.4 per cent. of the amount held, elected to convert, while the amount of cash applications received for the new Loan was £2,422,100. To show how our public issues are widespread among the community, I may mention that just prior to the conversion offer there were no less than 9,091 subscribers of the original stock whose holdings were £500 or less nominal value. And these included 3,844 holders of £100 and less. There were also 2,189 applications for £500 and under among the cash applications for the new Loan and these included 772 for £100 and under.
It would not be fitting, and I should be most unwilling to pass away from this section of my speech without acknowledging heartily and sincerely the ready support and co-operation which was afforded the conversion proposals by all sections of the Oireachtas, by those who sit opposite us, by those who sit here and on our left, and by our banks, by the Stock Exchange, by the Press and by investors and the public generally. It was a manifestation of public-spirited unison which I am sure commended itself to all who wish our country well. I have only to add that the success of the conversion operation has reduced the annual burden on the Exchequer by £391,000.
The conversion and redemption of the First National Loan mark a stage in the history of our Exchequer. It is therefore opportune to review our State debt. On occasion I may have made this a tedious business, and it is an aspect of our affairs which may engender much controversy. But I shall try to be as brief as possible. Indeed, in order to curtail controversy I shall at once present to any Deputy who may claim them as many millions of gold-ounces as he may need to gild his arguments. For now we can only look back to the days of the old gold standard as to a far-receding shore, and must consider our position on a purely objective basis in relation to the tide of world tendencies as it is flowing to-day.
The burden of our direct Exchequer obligations at the 31st March, 1936, amounted to £55,356,678, and was constituted as follows:—
Funded and Unfunded Debt:—
Second National Loan
Third National Loan
Fourth National Loan
4 per cent. Conversion Loan
5 per cent. Compensation Stock
3½ per cent. Compensation Stock
Savings Certificates (Principal and Interest)
Dáil Eireann Loan (Internal)
Dáil Eireann Loan (External)
Capital Liabilities under:—
Telephone Capital Acts
Land Acts, 1923-1933, for Costs Fund and State contribution to price
In addition there are annuities under the Telegraph Acts, Public Offices Site (Dublin) Act, Railways (Ireland) Act, and Marine Works (Ireland) Act, to the capital value of £64,071, which are at present the subject of dispute with the British Government.
Against this burden we may set balances amounting to £4,773,678, as follows:—
Exchequer Balance at Bank
National Loans Sinking Funds unapplied
Savings Certificates (Interest Charge Equalisation) Fund
together with certain Exchequer advances and shareholdings which amount to £26,728,657 and comprise:—
Shannon Electricity Fund
Electricity Supply Board
Local Loans Fund
Purchase of Creameries
Advances to Agricultural Credit Societies
Shares of Agricultural Credit Corporation
Shares of Industrial Credit Company
Shares of Cómhlucht Siúicre Eireann, Teo
It will thus be seen that, while on the face of the figures we appear to have direct Exchequer obligations amounting to £55,356,678, we likewise have offsetting cash assets and sound advances to the value of £31,502,335, so that our actual net debt would appear to be £23,854,343. The figures, however, are subject to certain adjustments which I shall make later and at this stage I merely give them provisionally.
In view of the radical currency changes which have taken place since September, 1931, the earliest year with which a valid comparison may be made is 1931-32.
The published statements available show that, at 31st March, 1932, comparable State liabilities amounted to £38,686,000, against which there were cash and other assets valued at £16,312,498, so that the actual uncovered net debt at 31st March, 1932, amounted to £22,373,502. Again the figures are given provisionally.
Under the heading of Other Capital Liabilities the most notable increase which has occurred since March, 1932, is to be found in the item Land Acts 1923 to 1933, which then stood at £2,397,000, but at 31st March last totalled £14,605,000. The increase arises from two causes; first, the increased activity of the Land Commission under the 1933 Land Act; and second, the reductions of from 50 per cent. to 55 per cent. in land annuities, granted by that Act to all tenant-purchasers. In the case of purchasers under the 1923 and subsequent Acts the capital liability remitted to the tenants and assumed by the State in consequence of these reductions is no less than £12,000,000 and is expected ultimately to rise to about £16,000,000. Even at its present figure it is more than four times the annual value of the land annuities which were formerly paid over to Great Britain. The aggregate capital value of the concession granted to those who purchased under the pre-1923 Land Acts is much larger, and if by any chance its cost had to be met, would fall much more heavily on our resources, but as no additional debt charge has been created in regard to it there is no corresponding entry in the list of State liabilities.
There has been an increase also in the State's liability in respect of Savings Certificates (principal and interest) which at 31st March last was computed to be £10,175,000 as compared with £8,151,288 on the corresponding date in 1932; while the net principal, after deduction of accrued interest, of the Savings Certificates outstanding was £7,754,000 as against £7,030,088 in 1932. I have no doubt whatever that were we to make the yield on certificates slightly more attractive we could considerably increase our borrowings under this head. But for reasons with which I do not wish at this stage to burden the House. I do not consider it advisable to do so. I shall merely say that of set policy I have so regulated the rate of interest upon our Savings Certificates as to keep our liabilities in regard to them within modest and reasonable limits. It is therefore not a matter of concern to me, nor need it be to others, that the amount paid out of the Exchequer last year in respect of the principal of Savings Certificates exceeds by £28,000 the amount paid in.
Because of the fact to which I have just referred it has been argued that among the less well circumstanced of our population the rate of saving has declined. A glance, however, at the records of that great thrift institution, the Post Office Savings Bank, and of the Trustee Savings Banks, will disprove such a contention. At 31st March, 1932, the amount due to depositors in the Post Office Savings Bank was £3,750,333. At 31st March. 1936, on a safe estimate, the final figures not being available, it was £6,734,000; while as between November, 1931, and November, 1935, the deposits of the Trustee Savings Banks here rose from £1,265,602 to £1,754,485. Need I say more?
It is convenient, however, to give just now the combined figures for the Savings Certificates in issue and the Post Office and Trustee Savings Banks for the same two years. In 1931-32 the aggregate figure for Savings Certificates and deposits in the Savings Banks was £13,167,223, while for 1935-36 it was £18,663,485—an increase of almost £5,500,000 in four years. Figures such as these give no support to the more reckless controversialists who allege that since March, 1932, the poor have been growing poorer, and that we have been consuming our substance and living on our reserves. On the contrary, they show that we are adding to our reserves. More important still, they indicate that, so far as its financial basis is concerned, the expansion which has taken place in our industrial activity has not been excessive or unwarranted.
I had intended to deal in detail with the Exchequer assets which constitute the other side of the State's balance sheet; but as I wish to elucidate the true position in regard to the Local Loans Fund, I shall pass on at once to a consideration of it.
The advances to the Local Loans Fund constitute the biggest Exchequer asset. On 31st March last these were taken at £12,841,195, and in the figures which we have given for 1932 stood at £2,536,237. The former figure, however, includes the disputed item of £5,432,087 in respect of old Local Loans. So that to make the figures comparable it is necessary to add to the 1932 figure the sum of £6,192,665 in respect of old Local Loans outstanding on that date, together with a further sum of £343,000 in respect of interest on these advances, or a total of £6,535,665. The truly comparable figures for the advances are, therefore, for 1931-32 £9,071,902, and for 1935-36 £12,841,195—an increase of £3,769,293.
Leaving the disputed item out of account for the moment, the total sum advanced to the Local Loans Fund at the 31st March last amounted to £7,409,108 as compared with £2,879,237 at 31st March, 1932, showing an increase of £4,530,000.
Loans for slum clearance schemes, under the Labourers Acts, and for other housing schemes contracted since the passing of the Housing Act of 1932, are included in this last figure to almost £4,000,000. In regard to all these loans, the State has undertaken to bear a very large part of the loan charges, and in fact in regard to about £3,500,000 of the advances, pays either 60 or 66 per cent. of them. The obligation to bear a specified part of these housing loan charges is fixed by statute, and, therefore, a corresponding proportion of the moneys borrowed by the local authorities directly from the Local Loans Fund is really borrowed by them on behalf of the State. The sum with which the Exchequer asset is credited in respect of the Local Loans advances ought then to be written down to cover this position. The allowance to be made for such writing down is £2,450,000.
But the matter does not end there, for the assistance which the Government gives by subsidised loans for housing is not confined to local authorities who borrow from the Local Loans Fund. On the contrary, it is given also to those large municipalities which are in a position to go direct to the money market and borrow on their own account. The total amount so borrowed from March, 1932, to 31st March last by local authorities from lenders other than the Local Loans Fund was roughly £3,300,000. The capital liability of the State which arises in respect of its contribution to the charges on these loans may be taken to be about £1,570,000.
It is now necessary to revise the provisional figures for the State Debt in the light of the facts which I have just elucidated. We must first add to the debit side of the account for 1935-36 a sum of £1,570,000 to cover the liability which certain local authorities have contracted on the State's behalf outside the Local Loans Fund. This raises the present total figure for our open and our concealed, as distinct from any contingent, State Debt to £56,927,000.
On the other side of the account, among the Exchequer assets, we have to make a deduction from the figure for the Local Loans Fund. I do not propose to make any adjustment in respect of the old local loans, as I believe that the asset is rightfully ours. There is, however, the State's liability for portion of the housing loans advanced to local authorities from the fund. This amounted on the 31st March last to about £2,450,000, and, if the real position is to be disclosed, must be deducted from the gross figure for local loans advances. The net effect is to reduce the figure for our present assets from £31,502,335 to £29,060,000. We have, therefore, this new position, that at the 31st March last the State liabilities amounted to £56,927,000. Against these at the same date we had offsetting assets to the value of £29,060,000, leaving a net burden of £27,867,000.
The adjustments which I have just made in the State's balance sheet arise from the fact that under the Housing Act of 1932 very generous subventions are given to meet loan charges on money raised for housing purposes. No subventions of this character were issued under any previous Act of the Oireachtas. It is not necessary, therefore, when comparing the present position with that of 1931-32, to make similar adjustments in the figures for 31st March, 1932. We must, however, make an adjustment in respect of the old local loans by adding to the assets side of the account the sum of £6,192,665 to cover the value of those loans at that date. But we were also at that date paying an annuity of £600,000 to the British Government in respect of these loans, and it is therefore necessary to increase the 1931-32 liabilities by the sum of £6,192,665, the then value of that annuity. The 1931-32 figures then become: Liabilities, £44,878,000; Assets, £22,848,000. So that the net State Debt at 31st March of that year was £22,030,000.
The difference between the adjusted figures for the years which we wish to compare shows that between the 31st March, 1932, and the close of the last financial year our net debt increased by £5,837,000.
In order to give a true presentation of the position I must contrast the tax revenue for the year 1935-36 with the figures for 1931-32. In that year the general tax revenue, excluding motor vehicle duties, amounted to £20,345,000; in 1935-36 it had risen to £24,228,000, an increase of £3,883,000 —unquestionably a considerable sum.
The question at once arises as to how the increase has been spent, because it is by the manner of its spending that the issue as to whether it was wise and justifiable or unwise and unjustifiable to raise it is to be determined. I claim that it has been wisely spent in improving the condition of the people. Practically all of it has been devoted to the extension and improvement of the social services, including education and housing; whereon the aggregate actual expenditure last year was £3,600,000 more than 1931-32.
Let me give a few details. Old age pensions and widows' and orphans' pensions last year got £3,695,000, as against £2,756,000 in 1931-32. Unemployment assistance, unemployment insurance, and national health insurance took £2,164,000, as against £514,000. For free milk, cheap beef and school meals there was £408,000, against £25,000; while housing, education, relief schemes and other miscellaneous services absorbed £5,371,000, as against £4,743,000. Thus the total expenditure last year on these social services alone was £11,638,000, but was only £8,038,000 in 1931-32.
Again, the expenditure under the Land Commission Vote in 1931-32 was £614,159. Last year it rose to £1,390,000. The work of the Land Commission is regarded by all Parties in the Oireachtas as being of the highest social importance. Within my experience, no vote has been cast in the Dáil for the curtailment of its activities and no one has ventured to deny the social value of its work. Accordingly, we may regard it as a social service and add the expenditure thereon to the figures which I have given, bringing them up to £8,652,000 for 1931-32, and to £13,028,000 for 1935-36.
If we have collected £3,883,000 in increased taxation, it will be seen that we have provided against this sum additional social services to the value of £4,376,000.
No doubt there are people who believe that we are spending too much on the social services, but they do not seem to be represented in this House. We are told that we have a vigorous and alert Opposition here, forceful in debate, searching in criticism. Yet when our proposals to spend even more upon these services came before them this year there was none among them to speak against us or to vote us down. Our critics know that increased expenditure almost inevitably involves increased taxation. If they are sincere about reducing taxation they should have voted against the increased provision for old age pensions, or housing, or unemployment assistance, when they had the chance some weeks ago. For any section of them now to complain of the burden of taxation is to make a mockery of representative Government.
There is one other matter to which I wish to refer before I pass on to a consideration of our proposals for next year. In the forefront of its social programme the Government has placed the task of providing better homes for the mass of the people, yet I fear there is no general appreciation of the herculean effort which it is making to solve the housing problem. We hear of what this local authority and that local authority has done, but comparatively little of what has been done and is being done by the State. At the 31st March last the total amount which had been raised or provided for housing purposes in Saorstát Eireann since 1st April, 1932, was £8,670,000. Towards this sum the Government has provided directly out of taxation free grants amounting to £1,370,000; and, as I have already shown, it has made itself wholly responsible for the loan charges on £4,000,000 of the balance.
Furthermore, in regard to the balance of the advances from the Local Loans Fund on which it does not itself provide the charges the State may be said to have borrowed no less than £1,550,000 which it has re-advanced through the fund to those local authorities, who cannot borrow in the open market at economic rates. Thus the State, being itself directly and solely responsible to the original lenders, has, in fact, guaranteed these loans. The State, therefore, has given as a direct contribution to the housing campaign £5,370,000 and has become guarantor for an additional £1,550,000. I have no desire to detract from the credit which is due and should be given to those others who are earnestly endeavouring to grapple with this first and greatest of our social problems. But I do claim recognition for the help which the State is giving, help which is gigantic in proportion to its resources and which overshadows and surpasses every other active element in the campaign.
We may turn now to consider the position for the current year.
Deputies have received the White Paper containing the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure to the 31st March next. According to it the amount required for the Central Fund Services is £4,600,217, while the Supply Services will want £27,884,783.
Included in the Central Fund Services is £360,000, which is required to complete the repayment of the Dáil Eireann External Loan, and for which I propose to borrow. This item, therefore, so far as revenue appropriation is concerned, may be left out of account, and there is no other budgetary adjustment to be made in this part of the Estimate.
As the Government has already indicated its intention to ask a further grant of £370,000 in aid of the relief of rates on agricultural land, bringing the total grant for this year up to £1,870,000, the White Paper Estimate for Supply covers that provision accordingly. There is one adjustment to be made in it however.
On compiling the original Estimates the sum of £285,000, representing the amount to be collected at the then prevailing rates from the levy on cattle and sheep, was brought in as an Appropriation-in-Aid of the Vote for Agriculture. This levy was intended to cover portion of the cost of services provided under the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Acts, 1934 and 1935, amounting in all to £670,918. In view, however, of the marked reduction which has occurred in the indisposable cattle surplus, and the generally satisfactory position of the revenue, it was decided to reduce the levy on cattle and sheep by 50 per cent. as from the 1st April last. The reduction will cost the Exchequer £142,500 in the current year and, as in the case of the abolition of the import duty on coal, forestalls a relief of taxation which otherwise would have been announced by me to-day. I may say also in passing that the aggregate cost to the Exchequer in the current year of these two remissions, if they had not been previously announced would have been £582,500.
The loss to the Exchequer by the remission of the coal duty has already been allowed for in estimating the revenue. But the reduction in the cattle and sheep levy was decided upon after the Estimates for the Supply Services had been fixed, and accordingly it must be allowed for now. We have, therefore, to write up the White Paper figure by £142,500, which will increase the total figure for the Supply Services to £28,027,083 and bring the gross figure for expenditure up to £32,627,500.
Included in this total, however, there is £106,700 for property losses compensation; £360,000 for the repayment of the Dáil External Loan, and £134,800 for capital expenditure on the new industrial alcohol factories; all items the cost of which, if necessary, may be properly defrayed out of borrowed moneys. Also there is the sum of £75,000 for volunteer halls, in regard to half of which, £37,500, I take the view, for the reasons which I detailed last year, that it too may be provided for out of borrowings. Then the export bounties and subsidies account for £2,180,000. In regard to these, I propose to do as last year and borrow, if necessary, one-half of the total requirement. These items together make a sum of £1,729,000, which I do not consider it necessary to provide for out of taxation. We may, therefore, reduce our grand total for taxation expenditure by this amount, bringing it down to £30,898,500, and may reduce it still further by allowing, as last year, the figure of £950,000 for over-estimation.
Let us turn now for a moment to the other side of the account. Tax and non-tax revenue together are estimated to bring in £30,363,000. Of this sum £1,000,000 is expected from the motor vehicle duties and £23,735,000 from general taxation. A very important element in the latter figure is the yield which is expected from taxes on income, property and profits generally. Last year they accounted for no less than 32 per cent. of our total tax revenue. Though they may appear to those who pay them to be heavy, these taxes are fair and equitable. They are progressive in their character, that is to say, the rate of tax is in general proportioned to the taxpayers' ability to pay, and they are economical to collect and administer. It is essential, therefore, that any attempt to evade them should be sternly checked and any loophole for evasion promptly closed. An eminent authority recently has given particulars of devices which elsewhere have been resorted to by ingenious but ungenerous taxpayers, and has foreshadowed legislation to defeat them. One would require to be over-credulous to believe that our taxpayers adopt a more liberal attitude towards the Revenue Commissioners, or are not the equals in ingenuity of those to whom the British Chancellor referred. In any event, it is well to safeguard them against temptation. I am considering whether legislation is necessary for the purpose, and if it be, the necessary supplementary resolutions will be introduced in due course.
But a much more serious matter has been brought to my attention. Under the present law the Revenue Commissioners cannot recover tax from a person who succeeds for six years in escaping assessment on his true income unless they are in a position to prove fraud or wilful neglect. A provision of the kind is likely to intensify the defects of a taxpayer's memory in regard to the details of his income, so that a deplorable carelessness creeps into the preparation of his returns. It may do worse, it may even tempt certain taxpayers to try to pass on their burden to the shoulders of their less well-circumstanced fellow citizens. It conduces in short to tax-evasion which may be wilful and deliberate, but not provably so. Therefore it is antisocial, may lead to dishonesty, and should be ended.
In the course of my Budget speech on the 11th May, 1932, I referred to this problem of tax evasion, and said that I intended "to have explored the question of the adequacy and effectiveness of the present provisions relating to income-tax penalties, especially the penalties for making declarations which the taxpayer knows to be false, with intent to defraud the revenue."
Unfortunately, owing to the pressure of the past four years, it has been impossible to examine this very difficult question thoroughly, and therefore I am not in a position to introduce definite legislation to deal with it. But I feel that, without prejudice to our powers and penalties, taxpayers who have been making inadequate returns for income tax and surtax (or supertax) since 1922-23 should, as a minimum, be compelled to make full restitution. I propose, therefore, to introduce legislation which will abolish the time limit of six years for the making of assessments and additional assessments to income tax, supertax, and surtax, and provide that such assessments may in future be made for the year 1922-23 or any subsequent year.
In doing this, I am fortified by the knowledge that within the past few years the State has lost very large sums by reason of the immunity the present condition of the law has given to certain taxpayers. Four typical and recent cases have just been brought to my notice. In one the taxpayer's approximate wealth was £350,000 and the revenue loss £9,000; in another £150,000 and the loss £3,000; in a third £74,000, the loss £1,000; and in the fourth the loss was £600 and the estate £35,000. All the persons originally concerned had died before their successful evasions came to light. And now, owing to this absurd limitation in regard to assessments, we find ourselves powerless to collect the tax which years ago should have been paid. A resolution to remove this anomaly is being presented accordingly.
As a result of the legislation to which I have just referred, I expect to obtain an increased revenue of £50,000 in the current year. I may say at once that I propose to utilise the whole of it to relieve income taxpayers who are heads of young families.
I should perhaps add, in order to prevent any misapprehension, that a taxpayer who has already made a full disclosure to the Revenue Commissioners and paid an agreed sum, which the Commissioners on their part have agreed to accept in settlement of the taxpayer's liability to income tax and surtax up to a certain date, need not fear a reopening of his case as a result of the proposed legislation. It will not be used to reopen such settlements.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce is anxious to afford better protection to certain newly-established industries and to encourage the establishment of further new industries. A tariff resolution giving effect to his policy in these matters will be submitted in due course. It is anticipated that incidentally it will produce about £23,000 for the Exchequer. Towards the cost of certain proposals which I shall outline later, the Road Fund will contribute £100,000. By reason of this, and the changes I have mentioned, we may bring the figure for the year's revenue up to £30,536,000.
We shall now revert to the other side of the account. The Dáil will remember that we had fixed the expenditure to be provided out of this year's revenue at the net figure of £29,948,500. Accordingly, with a prospective revenue of £30,536,000, a generous reduction in taxation would seem to be warranted, but for one factor: the problem of unemployment.
No one can deny that the State has made and is making great and generous efforts to provide for those of our citizens who may be in want through lack of employment. The mere consideration of what is being done now in regard to Housing; the contrast of the little that was done previously to assist unemployed persons with the fact that £1,610,000 was provided last year, and that £1,500,000 will be provided this year for this service; the increasing amounts which the Government since it took office has provided year after year for afforestation, for the improvement of estates, for public health works, for turf development, for minor relief schemes, are all emphatic indications of the liberal and humane spirit in which this problem, which has defeated so many Governments, has been approached. But even the most conservative elements in the community have been far from satisfied with what we have been trying to do. They have told us, in the Press, on the platform and, of course, most emphatically here in the Oireachtas, that doles are no substitute for work. The Government is in hearty accord with that view. Two years ago, visualising this problem as no other Administration in our history had visualised it before, we set up an Inter-Departmental Committee, under the chairmanship of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Hugo Flinn, to whose labours in investigating this problem of unemployment and endemic poverty the country is greatly indebted. The Committee was given the following terms of reference:—
"To consider the extent to which it is practicable to devise a scheme of useful and desirable public works to be carried out within a period of four years with a view to reducing expenditure on unemployment assistance to a minimum, and to report upon the nature and extent of such works, the steps to be taken to initiate them, the best method of financing them, and the organisation to be set up to carry them our."
The setting up of the Committee aroused great public interest, and we have been pressed—a little impatiently —from time to time for information as to the progress which it was making with its heavy task. For instance, just a week or two ago a certain Deputy put down his third or fourth Parliamentary question in relation to this matter. I am quite sure the Deputy was not merely trying on behalf of his Party to embarrass the Government. I have no doubt that sincere zeal for the cause of the unemployed made him a little impatient in the matter, and I have no doubt also that as a proof of that sincerity we shall hear no complaint from that Deputy about high taxation during the course of the Budget Debates, because it is not possible in present circumstances to do more for the unemployed than we are doing, certainly not in the way of providing work for them instead of doles, and at the same time drastically or generously reduce taxation. I am not yet able to say that the Inter-Departmental Committee has completed its task. But I can say this. It has indicated that a large amount of useful and highly desirable works, such as public health schemes, road works, site development for housing, harbour works, airport construction, miscellaneous minor works and experimental schemes, including such schemes as it is customary to finance out of the Relief Schemes Vote, could be undertaken if the necessary finances and, no less important, labour of a suitable kind, were available. This latter desideratum, contrary to the prevailing belief, is not going to be the easiest element to provide. I have had before me recently one instance in which an essential and useful public work has been held up because of the fact that of 73 recipients of unemployment assistance who were detailed by the employment exchange for the work, only nine turned up on the job. Some of the remainder thought the walk was too far for them. The incident would indicate that there are some people on the unemployment register who are not so badly in need of work or so desirous of obtaining work as to be entitled to be paid unemployment assistance.
The Committee, I should say, have not found it necessary to recommend the execution of any work of an abnormal or unusual character, though they have examined many such proposals —some of a quite fantastic kind—and have been moved to reject unreservedly most of them on the ground of their lack of social or economic utility and labour-employing capacity. It is estimated that, making allowance for contingencies, as much as £2,500,000 will be required to finance the programme which it is believed can be undertaken in the current year. Local authorities, on the usual basis, will be expected to bear part of the cost of many of the works contemplated, e.g., public health works, harbour works, airports, housing development and town improvement schemes. Some, indeed, have been pressing already for sanction and assistance to undertake them. For works of the kind usually classified as minor relief works no contribution or but a small contribution will be insisted upon; while for schemes intermediate between the two classes special arrangements may be made.
After making allowance for the local authorities' share of the cost of the programme a balance of about £1,675,000 will remain to be provided. The Government proposes to undertake that formidable task and, for the purpose, to set up an employment fund of that amount, which will be under the detailed control of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. In order to cover the provision for the employment fund it is necessary to add, on the expenditure side of the account, the sum of £1,675,000 to our previous figure of £29,948,500, bringing our total gross requirements up to £31,623,500, a sum which exceeds our disposable revenue by £1,087,500. It is to the problem of covering this deficiency that we must now turn our attention.
Included in the programme of works which has been envisaged is £600,000 for roads of all classes, other than accommodation and similar roads which will continue to be financed as minor relief schemes. Normally, the greater part of the cost of these works would be borne by the Road Fund. At the moment, however, the fund would not be in a position to shoulder its appropriate share of the burden and accordingly I propose to be content with a contribution from it of £100,000, the item for which credit has already been taken on the revenue side of our account.
Provision has also been made in the programme for the sum of £675,000 for public health works, which covers fully all the proposed schemes available and likely to be undertaken this year. The balance of £1,225,000 is intended to cover harbour works, site development works, airports, minor relief works, miscellaneous works and experimental schemes of various kinds. It is obvious that these works will be of permanent and lasting benefit. They are development works which will improve the amenities of the country, making it more attractive even if only as a holiday centre to others, and they will become a source of profit as well as of health and pleasure to our citizens. I do not think we should be justified, however, in rating too highly the Exchequer's prospects in regard to them. I think in all wisdom and prudence we must discount these very drastically. Furthermore, we must remember that the Exchequer may be called on through the Local Loans Fund to borrow largely on behalf of the local authorities. Accordingly, I would not feel justified in making a further large addition to the State's loan commitments by borrowing more than £250,000 for the fund. We may, however, immediately place to its credit the sum of £500,000, representing the original provision contained in the Estimates for grants towards the relief works which are now included in the comprehensive £2,500,000 programme; and after allowing for the Road Fund contribution to which I have referred, we are left with £825,000 to find out of the proceeds of new or existing taxation.
No one may cavil at our attempt, for all Parties in the House have united in demanding work or maintenance for the unemployed, and work rather than maintenance. Neither can any be so short-sighted as to assume that unemployment is an ephemeral phenomenon, to be dealt with for only one year and in that year to be disposed of for ever. For every advance in science and in organisation tends to reduce the human element in all works and in all processes, and to make manual labour more and more redundant. If we are to attack this problem earnestly and sincerely we must take a long view of it, as something which is going to be with us year after year, and which year after year has to be provided for out of the current resources of the community and the State. Any other approach than that is bound to end, as it is ending elsewhere at the present day, in social and financial disaster, and in an intolerable aggravation of the evil of unemployment itself.
We shall, of course, consider carefully our existing resources before we have recourse to new impositions. And here the continued improvement in the cattle position is of great assistance to us. The Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Acts of 1934 and 1935 were enacted to deal with the situation which had been created by a large unmarketable surplus in our cattle population. It is no secret that the Acts, while effective in dealing with the crisis for which they were designed, were costly and difficult to administer. The surplus of cattle to be disposed of having substantially diminished, it is no longer possible to operate the other provisions of the Acts and at the same time maintain beef distribution as at present. Accordingly, a more convenient scheme of subsidised beef distribution, which will be simpler and cheaper to administer, is being devised on the lines of the existing milk distribution, to enable us to deal with such otherwise indisposable beef surplus as may exist. We are, therefore, in a position to amend the Cattle Acts of 1934 and 1935 so as to reduce very substantially their present cost, particularly on the administrative side. This will give us a saving on our present Estimates of £140,000, which it is intended to devote to the purposes of the Employment Fund.
We have next to consider the saving which the execution of a public works programme costing £2,500,000 will have on the Vote for Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Assistance. It is obvious that it must be considerable. The whole position in that regard has been exhaustively investigated, and I am satisfied that we shall have a saving under this head of not less than £550,000.
We may now review our problem again. With our expenditure reduced to a net figure of £29,948,500, we had to add £1,675,000 to cover the cost of the Employment Fund, leaving us with a gross figure of £31,623,500, towards which we propose to raise £250,000 by borrowing. In addition we shall get £500,000 by a re-Vote to the Employment Fund of the amount already included in the Estimates under Vote 69 for relief schemes; we shall get a further £140,000 as the result of savings arising from the amendment and simplification of the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Acts; and, as a result of the employment which the comprehensive scheme of public works will give, we shall secure £550,000 by savings on the Vote for unemployment assistance. These savings, with the £250,000 to be borrowed, will amount to £1,440,000, and, deducting that sum from the previous figure of £31,623,500, we get £30,183,500 as the final figure for the year's expenditure. Against this we have provided a revenue of £30,536,000, giving us an estimated surplus for the current year of £352,500, which is now ours to dispose of.
It is essential that the surplus should be distributed widely and in such a way that the benefit should accrue in as large a measure and as equitably as possible to that ultimate taxpayer, the general body of consumers. At the same time, in the case of certain consumable commodities, care must be taken that no undue loss falls on merchants and distributors who in general hold large stocks. It is, therefore, essential that due notice and ample time should be given to enable these to be cleared and to avoid unfair price-cutting and competition. With this in mind, I have decided to reduce the Customs duty and the Excise duty on sugar by ¼d. per lb. as from 1st August next. This concession will cost the Exchequer £170,000. I am sure nothing need be said to recommend it to the Dáil.
I have referred to the intention of the Minister for Agriculture to amend and simplify the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Acts. The necessary legislation will be brought in at an early date and, it is hoped, will speedily become law. In anticipation that our hopes in that regard will be fulfilled, I propose to agree to the complete abolition of the levy on cattle and sheep as from 1st August next. This, in addition to the £142,500 which the Exchequer forewent when the levy was reduced by one-half as from 1st April last, will cost us a further £95,500.
I have mentioned that by alterations in the law relating to income tax we expect to secure £50,000 this year and have already informed the Dáil that it is intended to pass this on to the section of income taxpayers who, in my view, are most deserving, that is to the heads of young families. This will be done by increasing the allowance in respect of children from £50 per child to £60 per child. The effect will be to exempt from income tax many struggling people who are at present paying the tax and in other cases to give very substantial relief, especially to taxpayers on the lower ranges of income. Thus, a married man earning £9 per week who has three children at present pays £1 16s. income tax per annum. In future he will pay nothing. A married man earning £8 per week who has two children at present pays £2 7s. 3d. per annum; in future he will pay only 2/3 per annum.
It has been represented to me that there are certain professions in which plant and machinery are used for the carrying on of the profession, and that it is unjust that an allowance for the wear and tear of such plant should not be given for income tax purposes. I propose accordingly to include in the Finance Bill a clause to provide that the rule of Schedule D of the Income Tax Act, 1918, which authorises the allowance of a deduction in respect of the wear and tear of plant and machinery used for the purposes of a trade shall be extended so as to authorise the granting of a similar allowance in the case of plant and machinery used for the purposes of a profession. The concession is estimated to cost £3,000 in the current year.
Certain interests have represented very strongly to me the disabilities under which they labour by reason of the changing habits of the people and the high cost of the articles which they retail. When granting tax remissions it is sound policy to put first things first, and I think it will be generally agreed that the reductions which I have just announced should take precedence of any other concessions. Costing £318,500, they will absorb practically the whole of our surplus.
There is still a trifle left with which to give a little further relief. Many deputations have pressed me very hard for concessions, and among those which made a convincing case was one which represented the principal newspapers. When the import duty of 5 per cent.ad valorem on unprinted paper was imposed in last year's Budget, I indicated that though the duty was imposed primarily for revenue purposes, it had also a protective aspect in so far as it indicated that the Minister for Industry and Commerce was prepared to ask for adequate tariff protection for the newsprint industry if it could be established here. Plans are now complete for the enlargement and further development of the paper-making industry in the Saorstát, and I understand that in connection therewith the existing mill at Clondalkin, County Dublin, is to be re-equipped and reopened. But these plans do not provide for the manufacture of newsprint, and I understand that it is now considered impracticable to attempt the manufacture of that commodity for many years to come. I do not feel justified, therefore, in maintaining the existing 5 per cent. import duty on unprinted paper imported for the printing of newspapers and periodicals, and propose to abolish it as from 13th June next. This concession will cost £13,000.
Among the revenue tariffs imposed simultaneously with the tariff on unprinted paper was one of 10 per cent. on glass sheets and strips. Unlike the duty on unprinted newsprint, the glass tariff induced certain interests to consider the possibility of making such sheets and strips here. The possibility has been found to be practicable, and the necessary protective duties, with the usual licensing provisions, are included in a Resolution to come before you this evening. I have accordingly decided to ask the Dáil to abolish the existing duty of 10 per cent. as from 1st September next. The concession will cost £6,000.
Also among the revenue tariffs imposed last year was an import duty of 10/- per cental on wool and wool waste other than flock. At the urgent request of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who represents that these materials form the raw materials for the home manufacture of certain kinds of yarn, I have decided to ask the Dáil to abolish this duty as from to-day. The revenue will thereby lose £4,000.
Last year certain increases were made in the entertainments tax on cinema seats. As I have already indicated, the results were not satisfactory either from the viewpoint of the cinema proprietors or the Exchequer. There was, indeed, a very considerable falling off in the attendances during the first two months that the new scale was in operation. There was some recovery during the remainder of the year but in general the recovery has not been complete, so that this form of entertainment has been hit harder than was intended. Moreover, the adverse effect was much greater in the case of working-class cinemas, where the top inclusive price is 1/- or less. Such houses were severely affected by the fact that under the new scale an inclusive price of 8d. could not be charged; and it may be admitted that in the existing peculiar circumstances of their case a 3½d. tax in respect of an inclusive price of 1/- is excessive. These considerations suggest the restoration of an 8d. inclusive price, with a duty charge of 1½d., and the reduction of the duty charge in the case of the 1/- inclusive price from 3½d. to 3d.
There is another aspect of the law in relation to cinema tax which ought to be amended. Under Section 22 of the Finance Act, 1931, it is provided that where more than half of an entertainment consists of personal items as distinct from cinematograph shows, entertainments duty shall not be payable on payments for admission thereto.
This concession has had unexpected reactions. The recent tendency in cinema entertainments is to lengthen what are called "feature" films so that they will cover a run of from an hour and a quarter to an hour and a half. The programme is then filled up with "shorts" of various kinds, e.g., short news reels, travel films, Nature study films, etc., the "feature" film being the real attraction to the public. Thus by showing "feature" films only and using personal items instead of "shorts" merely for filling-up, a house which is in effect nothing more than a cinema can escape payment of the cinema duty. In this way the revenue suffers an extensive loss, which is likely indeed to increase as the policy in question becomes more widely adopted. The strain on the revenue is intensified in the case of those houses which, being licensed by Letters Patent as theatres, offer to their patrons the additional attraction of a licensed bar. To protect the revenue some adjustment of this position is necessary. Accordingly, as regards theatres in respect of which Letters Patent have been issued, that is, theatres which are legally entitled to have a public bar, it is proposed—
(1) that when 75 per cent. at least of an entertainment consists of personal performance such entertainment shall be duty-free;
(2) that when less than 75 per cent. but not less than 50 per cent. of an entertainment consists of personal performance duty shall be paid on payments for admission to such entertainment at one-half of the rates applicable to cinematograph performances;
(3) that when less than 50 per cent. of an entertainment consists of personal performance duty shall be payable on payments for admission to such entertainment at the full rates applicable to cinematograph performances.
It is to be observed that the payment of half-duty rates under (2) is confined to theatres as regards which duty is paid on the basis of certified returns. This privilege is granted unreservedly to any theatre proprietor who gives the necessary security, makes his returns correctly and promptly, and pays the duty when it becomes due. It is proposed to make these changes in the cinema duties operative from the 1st July, 1936. As an immediate result the Exchequer will probably experience a net loss of about £3,000 in the current year. But I am satisfied that next year the changes will more than pay for themselves. At any rate they are essential in order to secure the yield from entertainments tax, which at over £250,000 has now become an important element in our revenue.
A minor amendment of the entertainments duty will be brought in to exempt from the duty two indoor sports of which public exhibitions are sometimes given, but which through an oversight, were not specifically mentioned when the proposals giving effect to the general policy of exempting such entertainments were before the Dáil. The revenue derived from the exhibitions in question is infinitesimal and the cost and inconvenience of collecting it are much more than it is worth. There will be also a resolution strengthening the law in relation to the duty-free importation of dutiable articles on a permanent change of residence. Such a resolution is necessitated by the fact that in a number of cases motor cars have been bought or acquired solely with a view to use in the Saorstát, and attempts have been made to import them free of duty. The Revenue Commissioners have refused duty-free importation in such cases, but it is considered advisable to make it quite clear that the concession is not intended to apply in such circumstances. There will also be a minor proposal in relation to the motor vehicle duties. After making all the provisions, changes and concessions which I have detailed, I expect to close the year with the nominal surplus of £8,000.
And that brings me to the end of the financial statement. We are meeting the needs of all our services, we have provided fully for the continuance of our campaign for the better housing of the people, we have planned for a comprehensive attack on the problem of unemployment and, on the balance, we have reduced taxation. We have devised, as the indispensable foundation for all this, a sound Budget. There has been no recourse to inflation and no tampering with the currency. We have not resorted to the nostrums and panaceas which are held out so often as easy ways to encompass a most difficult thing: The provision of a frugal sufficiency for everyone's need. It has been done, as the phrase has it, "Within the System." We have those among us who advocate Communism, State Socialism, Totalitarianism. To me these are but aspects of the one tyranny, and as they are all repugnant to the essence of human liberty, the freedom of the mind and of the conscience, I hate and abhor them all. I do hope most fervently that they will never take root here. This Budget shows that they need not, if Governments but satisfy the essential requirement of good government, which is to try to do social justice. Within a short period there have been provided by this little State social services adapted to our particular needs, which for liberality, comprehensiveness and practical utility are not surpassed by any in Europe. They have been built up on a sound foundation of private enterprise and individual thrift—sources which for thousands of years have furnished our material progress. I feel that they will be no less fruitful in the future; and that it is by the proper utilisation of what they provide, that the people will be afforded, not merely higher standards of living but greater opportunities for spiritual and cultural development. It is with that philosophy that I have taken my part in framing this Budget.