OPINION: Rural Independent TDs, including Deputy Danny Healy-Rae and Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, will bring a motion before the Dáil this Wednesday demanding that the government holds an urgent mini budget to mitigate and address the spiralling cost-of-living crisis on multiple fronts. Here, Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae, outlines the need to recognise the cost-of-living crisis as a national emergency
The current cost of living crisis is financially crippling to all lower income earners, including pensioners, struggling mortgage holders and the unemployed. It is also having a disproportionate impact on all rural residents and farmers across the country.
The skimpy package of measures, recently announced by the government, is grossly insufficient, given the depth and impact of this crisis. That is why we are tabling this motion in the Dáil, aimed at forcing an out-of-touch government into holding a mini budget.
For almost a year now, my colleagues and I, in the Rural Independent Group, have been emphasising the need to tackle inflationary pressures, brought about predominantly by the government’s frenzied green policies and crippling carbon taxes.
Unfortunately, the government has been idle, allowing costs to soar while simultaneously benefitting from record VAT, excise duties and carbon taxes from fuel, home heating, electricity, household goods, building materials, fertilisers and animal feeds.
VAT, for instance, is calculated as a percentage of the price of goods or services, meaning as those prices inflate, so too do VAT receipts for the government. Thus, inflation means higher prices and more money flowing into the Exchequer.
Increased transport and home fuel costs are causing extreme financial hardship for many households, small businesses and farmers. Therefore, we believe that the best way to ensure prices fall rapidly is to reduce VAT, excise duties and the carbon tax on all fuel types until at least the end of 2022.
The greatest advantage of using consumption taxes to provide relief against inflation is that the impact can be felt by the public immediately. With the EU Commission already recommending that member states take this course, we believe the government must finally act.
The only meaningful way to tackle current inflation and protect consumers is through taxation reliefs and increasing all fixed social welfare payments by €20 per week.
In tandem with these measures, financially-pressed farmers require a multi-million euro package, as called for in our motion, to mitigate a 300 per cent jump in fertiliser costs, combined with the impacts of fuel, feeds and energy spikes, which are crippling to all famers but especially pig producers.
Unfortunately, swift government actions, on this or any public crisis, are rare or reserved solely for large corporate vested interests, such as banks who were bailed out by Fianna Fáil and the Greens. However, standing by and paying lip service to this emergency is no longer a tenable position to hold.
Consequently, we believe a rapid multi-faceted package of measures, together with more active management of this economic crisis, can only be achieved through a mini-budget. We sincerely hope and invite all TDs to support our motion when it is debated tomorrow.
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