Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Ceisteanna (268)

Noel Grealish


268. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether a stimulus package targeted at the retail and hospitality sectors is required; his further views on a proposal from business representative groups to give each adult over 18 years of age a gift card of a predetermined monetary value in order to boost consumer spending to reboot the economy; his views on such a proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26281/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The July Stimulus measures are a significant part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis and will help ensure Ireland’s Tourism and Hospitality businesses get back on their feet and as many people as possible can return to work, when it is safe to do so. These measures were in addition to other Government supports already in place. They provide supports for businesses to retain existing jobs and to create new ones, and they will help build confidence in consumers and communities all over Ireland.

The Tourism Recovery Taskforce is expected to publish its Final Recovery Plan in the coming weeks and Minister Catherine Martin will consider its recommendations at that stage.  In the context of the Budget and the development of the National Economic Plan, the Government will review and refine existing supports, and consider any further necessary measures as we adjust to managing COVID-19.

Other specific policy matters  in relation to the retail and hospitality sectors are matters, in the first instance, for an Tánaiste, for the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht and for the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

With regards to a gift card/voucher system, the Stay and Spend Incentive (SASI) was introduced earlier this year. The purpose of the SASI is to incentivise taxpayers to support registered/accredited providers of accommodation and/or food during the off-season, thus providing support to a particularly vulnerable sector that will continue to be constrained by public health limitations. All food service providers and Fáilte Ireland registered or listed providers of accommodation are eligible to take part in the scheme.

The SASI will provide a maximum of €125 in income tax credits to tax-payers who spend up to €625 in restaurants, pubs, hotels, B&Bs etc. in the period from October 2020 to the end of April 2021. Where an individual or jointly assessed tax-payer has insufficient income tax liability to fully benefit from the measure, they may still avail of the relief against their USC contributions.

It was decided not to implement a gift card/voucher system for the following reasons:

- A voucher system would be slow to implement, as well as costly to administer

- There may be the potential for unlawful use of any vouchers, including for fraud and money laundering

- The SASI was designed to incentivise consumers to spend more. By covering a proportion of the eligible spend (20%) rather than its entirety, it was designed to leverage money people may have saved over recent months and get them to spend not just €125 but €625.