Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe delivered a budget of ‘Absolutely no surprises’ on Tuesday 8th October, as the ‘Shadow of Brexit’ looms large over the Government purse.
Must of the additional funding allocation in the budget has been put to a €1.2bn Brexit fund, to be enacted in the case of a no-deal Brexit scenario. In the event of a hard Brexit, the Exchequer is anticipating a GDP deficit of between 0.5% and 1.5% in 2020.
If there is a no-deal Brexit, €650 million will be provided for agriculture, enterprise and tourism. Of this, €110m will be be provided through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – €85m for beef farmers, and €14m for fisheries. €40m will be used to support the tourism sector.
The €40m funding will allow for a focus on regions most exposed to a hard Brexit such as the border counties; a targeted advertising campaign for the British market via Tourism Ireland; promotions in other key markets such as North America; and for Fáilte Ireland to support tourism businesses through its Brexit Response Programme.
It was a good day for microbreweries, who saw their tax break qualifying production threshold increased by 10,000 hectolitres to 50,000.
The Rainy Day Fund, which the Government has been adding to in recent budgets, has been cut by €500m to instead be used for Brexit preparations.
There will be an adjustment to income tax thresholds, to facilitate a 30c rise in the minimum wage.
€9m has been allocated for new greenway and urban cycling projects, and €3m has been promised as infrastructural investment for electric vehicles, i.e. additional charging points throughout the country.
“This was a particularly challenging budget because of the need that we have to make some changes before Brexit, combined with the inevitable political challenge that will emerge in this being the final budget of this Dail, did make it a challenging process,” said Minister Donohoe.