In the budget for 2004 I announced that tax relief for film production is to be extended for a further period of four years from 31 December 2004 to 31 December 2008, and that the ceiling per film will be increased to €15 million from 2005. I also announced that future decisions will depend on there being no further abuse of the scheme and that there should also be clear evidence that the film industry can develop on a firmer footing throughout the country and not just close to Dublin. My decision was primarily informed by the case and arguments, particularly those of a non-economic nature, put forward to me by my colleague the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy O'Donoghue for the continued retention of this relief.
With regard to my views on the support for my budget day announcement to extend this relief, I point out that, in my experience, all decisions to continue State financial support to a sector, either directly by way of grant aid or indirectly through the use of tax incentives are invariably widely welcomed by the sector concerned. I am aware of the views of many that the decision to extend the relief by an additional four years will be of great benefit to the Irish film industry and I share this view.
I received a large number of representations on behalf of individuals and representative bodies to extend this relief in the run up to the budget. In view of the significant number of these requests, I regret that I cannot report on my contacts with the various groups in any great detail. The vast majority of the correspondence called for the retention of this relief beyond 31 December2004.