Budget 2017: ‘Not a whole pile for the Border region, is there?’

‘Price of cigarettes already driving smokers to black market... the issue is rife in my area’

Shopkeeper Eamon McCaughey: says 50 cent increase for cigarettes “will have a major impact on my business”.

Shopkeeper Eamon McCaughey: says 50 cent increase for cigarettes “will have a major impact on my business”.

 

Businessman Tony Morgan takes a quick break from the counter of his gift shop in Clones, Co Monaghan to watch Minister of Finance Michael Noonan unveil this year’s budget.

Morgan had spoken on Monday of feeling neglected by the Government and said he hoped it would invest in his town, which has seen a large number of businesses closing, but says he has been left disappointed with Budget 2017.

“There’s not a whole pile in this budget for the Border region, is there? Noonan hasn’t alleviated any of my concerns,” he said, taking a bite of his lunch before he has to return to the shop floor.

The Minister for Finance said the corporation tax rate will remain at 12.5 per cent and will not be changed in the hope it would prove attractive to companies after the UK leaves the European Union.

“He talks about leaving the corporation tax alone, there was never a doubt that the 12.5 per cent tax rate would be increased.

“I think it will prove attractive in the larger urban areas such as the financial services sector in Dublin, where they are trying to get business in there.

“My fear around Brexit is road closures and losing freedom of travel. His concern is big companies and trying to get hundreds of jobs into cities, not areas like Clones,” he said.

Capital Gains Tax

“I think the reduction in Capital Gains Tax is a positive thing for someone selling a business and passing it along, but €319 million on regional and local roads is not enough,” added Morgan, who said “you take your life in your hands” when you drive on some the roads out of Clones.

Shopkeeper Eamon McCaughey, meanwhile, said the 50 cent increase for a packet of cigarettes “will have a major impact on my business”.

“Already the price of cigarettes is driving the smokers away from me and to the black market. This is an issue that is rife in my area.

“We are already one of the dearest in Europe in terms of pricing for cigarettes - and now this. That is almost half of my business,” he said.

Jessica Knight, who runs fashion and beauty salon Liberty Belle in the town, was worried about the budget when she spoke about it beforehand but is now relieved to see improvements to State pensions and disability allowances.

“The fact they are to go up by €5 a week is a great thing and will go a long way around here. They say they are going to [have an] extra 800 gardaí so I hope we will get some of them.

“We need some security and we need patrols. If we had more gardaí on the ground maybe people would sleep a bit better at night,” she said.

“I think the budget is pretty good all round but would have some questions over the €15 million being invested in high street broadband.

“I think it’s good, but I don’t know how rural they are going to go. Will they come as far as us? Will they come to Clones? I hope so,” the businesswoman said.