The Bill will authorise in law all of the expenditure that has been undertaken in 2021 based on the Estimates that have been voted on by the Dáil during the year. The moneys that have been voted on are brought forward and made into law. I am sure that there are many wish lists at the end of year for all parties concerned. Housing, certainly is one for the first-time buyers, the trader-uppers and the downsizers, and social housing and the homeless are paramount for the years ahead.
Another wish list would be for accountability in the health system. Ursula von der Leyen earns €351,000 per annum and answers to 447 million people. Paul Reid earns €426,000 per annum and answers to 5 million people. He oversees a broken health system that has not improved over the past 12 months. University Hospital Limerick. UHL, has topped the poll in eight weeks out of ten for overcrowding. How many intensive care unit, ICU, beds have been created through this time? When are the waiting lists going to be dealt with? When is the trolley crisis going to be dealt with? Where is the value for money? As I have continually said there are loads of rules and regulations but nothing is enforced or there is no accountability.
Research has proven that the problem is not the increase in the attendance at emergency departments; it is the bottleneck in the flow of patients to the rest of the hospital system from the emergency departments.
I believe the Minister is a good one. I have been self-employed from a very early age. If I ran my business the way the health system is run by some of the people there I would have been out of business. I was accountable for my business and to my family that my business would work, and I was accountable to the people who I employed. They did the same for me. I am thankful that I have the same people with me at all times and I treat them like family. We are family because we support each other. I hate that in my county of Limerick I see our hospital being top of a poll for overcrowding eight weeks out of ten. On my first day in the Dáil, I asked for a business model for hospitals and for a bed structure to be put in place and to go back in time to when the rounds were being done. Beds were being released at 11 o’clock after rounds. It then gave the opportunity for beds to be cleaned and put back into the system by 1 p.m. and it created a flow of people but it also gave infrastructure for nurses and doctors within the hospitals. They knew what beds they had and on what time they would have them. It gave a structure.
I have asked for an audit system on the hospitals. Some of the public hospitals are working very well and others are not and I need help to sort this out. The Government has thrown money time and again at this and has created massive buildings with similar technology and it has not fixed the problem. This is a management problem. Management needs to be held accountable for this situation.
I will move on to something that I have spoken to the Minister about, which is looking to the future to make provision for people working then. I brought this up with him in connection with the wage subsidy system that is unfolding at the moment. I said to him that 11,000 people will be affected by not qualifying for the scheme because the restrictions that were put in place are at 71% or 72% of their turnover in 2019, which means they will not qualify for the scheme on 1 January as one has to qualify by 31 December. If we take the hotel industry, it has lost €250 million of bookings because of Government Covid-19 restrictions.
Businesses have lost bookings for November and December that they needed to carry them through January and February, when they do not have bookings, to be ready for March and the tourist season. They have not lost only two months; they have lost four months. The hospitality sector has invested in outside dining for customers to meet guidelines but it has been hit twice by new guidelines. This is the second Christmas this has happened. Does the Minister know any other business that could survive losing its Christmas trade two years in a row?
Yes, the Government did help. The employment wage subsidy scheme was the best thing it has done. However, 18% of the hotel industry, with 11,000 people, will not qualify now for a wage subsidy. The Minister may say they can qualify for the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP, but the problem is it is very difficult to get people who were in receipt of the PUP back into the industry in which they were working. To me, it is the same figure that can be made accountable for this. I read a news headline just before I came into the Chamber. An Irish company that delivers Mercedes-Benz vehicles into this country got €108 million in wage subsidies. It will cost €7.5 million to protect 11,000 jobs in the hotel industry, not to mention the hotels themselves, and future-proof tourism in Ireland. I have asked the Minister, Deputy McGrath, to go to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe. He stated he would do so. I have asked it of other Ministers in the House. People are telling me the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, is looking backward; he is not looking forward. I am in business. I know that when you are in business, you have to look forward and move forward.
This is about 11,000 jobs. It would cost €7.5 million for them to qualify to be on the wage subsidy scheme. Businesses in other sectors have been on the wage subsidy scheme all year because they did not meet their targets. Some business came off it because they projected they would reach their target, but some of those businesses are not affected by Covid because they can still work and the projections have not been interfered with. The hospitality sector, however, is the one sector that has been affected twice. I am pleading with the Minister to save 11,000 jobs and future-proof the hospitality industry by putting in €7.5 million for the sector so the wage subsidy scheme can go ahead for businesses that do not qualify because they have gone marginally over the limit.
I have been raising the issue of fuel costs in the House in recent weeks. I even highlighted it by bringing a truck onto the grounds of Leinster House. My secondary school maths might not be as good as that of many Deputies but I know how to add, multiply, subtract and divide. By my calculations - I am not out by much - the Government has taken in €8 billion as a result of the extra tax increase on fuel since January 2020. I calculated the figure on the basis that an average car burns €100 worth of fuel, which is approximately 12 gallons. The price of fuel has increased by 19 cent per litre. On the basis of 2.2 million cars, it works out at approximately €1.2 billion in extra tax. I then considered the truck industry. There are approximately 40,000 heavy goods vehicles, HGVs. I worked out that figure as well, which is €1.6 billion. The light goods vehicles, that is, vehicles under 3.5 tonnes, of which there are 338,000, account for €2 billion. The balance is accounted for by the agricultural sector - the tractors that are used to put food on our table, set crops in the ground and feed animals. It adds up to €8 billion in extra tax.
I stood with farmers in Musgraves the other day. I met them to hear their concerns. I have met the IFA and other groups and heard their concerns. We all need to consider how we can improve things. I do not believe farming is the problem in the context of emissions, much as the Government states it is the problem. I believe the statistics put forward by the Government are wrong because it has not allowed for putting slurry directly into the ground. There are different sectors of it that have not been allowed for, so the statistics are wrong.
I want to save the planet. Ireland accounts for 0.01% of the issue on the planet but we have more sanctions than any other European country. The sanctions imposed in Ireland are the highest in Europe. The Government statistics go by head of population, using a figure of 5 million people, so we are higher. Everyone in the world wants products from Ireland because we have the best grass, milk, beef and freshly grown vegetables. That is why everyone wants Irish products. However, the Government is pricing Irish farmers out of the market. It is pricing the future generation of farmers out of the market.
I will finish on this. I implore the Minister, Deputy McGrath, and his Government to ask the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, to see common sense and save 11,000 jobs in a sector where businesses have lost four months of revenue. The Government should not be short-sighted. If the scheme is to be amended for those workers only, that is fine. I want to save 11,000 jobs and I am using common sense. When you consider the billions of euro the Government is taking from people on fuel alone, let alone the extra tax it is taking on food, clothes and shoes, the €7.5 million it would cost to save those jobs is not out of the way. The Government takes a margin of tax on everything that is in this building. I just looked at fuel. A sum that does not even equate to 1% of what the Government is taking in can save 11,000 jobs.
The creation of 100 jobs in Limerick was announced yesterday. I welcome those jobs. I would welcome the creation of one job in Limerick. I welcome the creation of jobs anywhere in the country. An investment of €70 million has been put in to get those 100 jobs in Limerick. I am sorry that I was not present for the announcement. I had to come up here and represent the rest of the country. I wish the company well. I hope it will employ far more people. I hope every employer in the country will employ more people. However, for today, I want the Minister, Deputy McGrath, to use common sense and his power as Minister to persuade the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, to save 11,000 jobs in the hospitality sector.