A budget for strange times

 

Sir, – The almost €18 billion figure in the budget is a staggering amount of money.

What will be unsustainable is if interest rates go up even by 1 per cent or 2 per cent.

We have Brexit coming down the tracks, and tax harmonisation across the EU looking likely.

People think Ireland has paid off the debt we took on when the banks and developers were bailed out. But we are paying €7 billion in interest a year. So let’s hope we have some clever people doing the maths. – Yours, etc,

BARRY ROONEY,

Ashford,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – The budget is the tale of the two Irelands writ large. The travails of one sector, business, were met with unabashed largesse, while the struggles of the homeless and all those with inadequate access to healthcare and other social goods were met with an austere and wretched sprinkling of crumbs. – Yours, etc,

JIM O’SULLIVAN,

Rathedmond,

Sligo.

A chara, – Having gone through the coverage, from the soundbites to the details, there’s been one line running through my head again and again. It was not any of the measures or plans introduced, none of the rises or falls in rates, no assurances or missed opportunities that stayed in my mind. Instead it was the phrase, your health is your wealth.

All the plans, promises or pledges in the world from Government or Opposition won’t mean a thing without our collective health. – Is mise,

PAUL McCARRICK,

Athlone,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – I watched and listened to the reaction of Opposition parties to the Budget. Given the well-rehearsed “theatre” involved in this process, I wondered what would Fianna Fáil spokespersons have said if this was a Fine Gael-only budget? – Yours, etc,

BRIAN McKENNA,

Dublin 5.

Sir, – While I am delighted to see the Government is making €1 billion available for passenger bus and rail services, why are there no funds to try and move some of the freight from road to rail? – Yours, etc,

TIM SWEETMAN,

Islandbridge,

Dublin 8.

Sir, – In the run-up to the budget, there was some speculation regarding measures that could be introduced to help the taxi industry. Unfortunately it would appear that the only measures introduced are the ability to work and keep the pandemic unemployment payment payment (PUP) as long as your earnings don’t exceed €120 per week gross, and the introduction of an enhanced grant to purchase a electric vehicle.

Given that many drivers currently cannot make repayments on their existing vehicles, I somehow doubt that the take-up for the scheme will be overwhelming.

Small measures that would have helped the industry, and which would have cost a small amount to introduce, would be reducing or waiving annual licence fees, and small grants to enable drivers keep their vehicles on the road and to purchase relevant safety equipment, such as Covid screens.

There are many drivers who would exit the industry, if they were able to sell back their licence to the State, as they no longer are comfortable working alongside Covid.

The overall cost of introducing measures to alleviate the crisis in the industry is small, but it would without doubt assist individuals to survive in the business, and reduce the stress that drivers currently face. – Yours, etc,

CONOR HOGARTY,

Blackrock,

Co Dublin.

A chara, – I assume that the €1.3 billion funds directed to road improvement projects, such as the Drumkettle interchange upgrade in Cork, will be restricted to vehicles with low carbon emissions. – Is mise,

DERMOT O’ROURKE,

Lucan,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – For me, one major disappointment with the budget was the lack of an allocation of funds for the purchase of new calculators for everyone.

My current calculator only goes as far as 99,999,999.

That is useless in today’s world of billions.

Could someone address this issue, please?

It reminds me of when I was young and we used to joke that we were going to make “billions, trillions and stillions”, without really knowing if they were real.

Now that I know about the first two, is there such a thing as a stillion?

The way things are going, it may need to be real. – Yours, etc,

BRIAN CULLEN,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 16.