Fianna Fáil Jobs and Enterprise Spokesperson, Niall Collins T.D has said that the ultimate budget litmus test for entrepreneurs and businesses will be our ability to increase competitiveness and kick-start regional jobs creation.

“Prioritising Irish job creators and the self-employed were key policy issues that Fianna Fáil secured in the Confidence & Supply arrangement to facilitate the formation of a minority government. Providing social protection support for self-employed people has been party policy since Budget 2012.”

“My party engaged in a series of pre-budget discussions with the Government to secure progress on these Fianna Fáil’s priorities.  It is welcome that the earned income tax credit has been increased. Equalising fully the treatment of the self-employed and PAYE workers is a core policy and this process must be completed in the next budget,” added Collins.

“However, competitiveness challenges loom large over our country’s ability to create an attractive business environment.”

“Ireland has continued to plunge on the Word Bank’s rankings for the ease of doing business across 189 economies, dropping four places to 17th in 2016. Scant regard has been paid to addressing major items as highlighted by the National Competitiveness Council in Budget 2017.”

“Reducing CGT for entrepreneurs to 10% was pushed strongly by Fianna Fáil in discussions.”

“We remain disappointed that the UK will still have a more attractive system of relieves which applies a 10% rate to entrepreneurial gains of up to £10m, far in excess of the €1m Irish limit,” added Collins.

“We echo the disappointment of the Irish Exporters Association that the budget did not go far enough to strengthen indigenous Irish companies’ ability to compete internationally.”

“More needs to be done with Brexit on the horizon. Fianna Fáil has called for a Minister with overall responsibility for BREXIT to be appointed and we will continue to make the case for such a Minister to be appointed.”

“Despite Fine Gael’s talk of spreading the recovery, the fact remains that 52% of the employment gains in 2015 were in the capital despite accounting for 31% of the total state employment, while 46% of all IDA site visits in first 6 months of 2016 were in the capital.

“For SMEs and entrepreneurs the ultimate budget litmus test will be realising regional jobs targets and cutting the cost to businesses and bridging competitiveness deficits.”

“A two-tier Ireland is still being entrenched by Fine Gael, and today’s budget announcement does little to instil confidence that they have changed their agenda,” concluded Collins.