British Irish Chamber of Commerce welcomes Budget 2019 as the most progressive Brexit Budget to date although remains concerned that some businesses will be left behind.

Director General John McGrane: “There are many elements of Budget 2019 that the British Irish Chamber welcomes. Today’s announcements will help businesses in their preparations for Brexit, but more can be done to ensure that no businesses are left behind.”

The British Irish Chamber of Commerce has reacted to the publication of Budget 2019 by Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe today.

Speaking following the budget announcement this afternoon, John McGrane, Director General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, said: “There are many elements of Budget 2019 that the British Irish Chamber welcomes. Today’s announcements will help businesses in their preparations for Brexit, but more can be done to ensure that no businesses are left behind.

“We welcome the Government’s emphasis on preparing for Brexit. Brexit has the potential to be the biggest economic challenge of this generation, and businesses will be reassured to hear of the Government’s commitment to ensuring a deal is agreed between the EU and UK this autumn and avoiding a cliff-edge scenario next March.

“The establishment of the Rainy Day Fund with an investment of €1.5 billion is a prudent move that will ensure our economy is best prepared to deal with any shocks that may arise over the coming months and years.

“The increased funding of nearly €1 billion to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and State Agencies and over €100 million to the Department of Agriculture is also welcome. As businesses and farmers prepare for Brexit, initiatives such as the Future Growth Loan Scheme for SME’s and the agri-food sector, coupled with capital investment in our rural economy and customs training and support for those on the front-line of Brexit, are all vital measures to ensure those most exposed have the ability to grow and trade their way through any challenges they might face.

“We are also pleased to see the Minister’s announcement of reforms to Key Employee Engagement Programme (KEEP) as called on by the Chamber and other key stakeholders in the sector.

“The Chamber feels continued work on additional measures could make Ireland more competitive on both a European and Global stage. Even further adjustment to Ireland’s marginal rate of income tax, capital gains tax and the higher rate of VAT will improve the country’s competitiveness.  

“The Human Capital Initiative with increased funding of €150 million in the country’s Higher Education system is a good start and even more will be needed to compensate following years of under investment in this sector since the crash. Higher Education and Research is one area where Ireland can make gains as a result of Brexit and investment is the key if we are to see this sector reach its full potential.

“The increase of the VAT rate for the tourism sector to 13.5% is unwelcome and will have a real impact on a truly national sector that brings economic benefit to communities across the State and especially in rural Ireland. The lower rate of tax has been beneficial to the exchequer and has resulted in growth and greater employment in this sector.  

“A reduction in the lower rate of employer PRSI as recommended by the Chamber would have gone some way to alleviate this increased VAT rate and other costs.

“Today’s Budget is a positive step in Brexit preparations for the country, but we must ensure that no businesses are left behind as they prepare for a new economic and trading environment beyond March of next year.”

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