Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Environment and Local Government, Barry Cowen TD, has labelled the Government’s new Valuation Bill as totally inadequate.
Last Friday, the Government published the Valuation Amendment Bill 2012, which it says underpins the rateable valuation system on which commercial rates are collected.
Deputy Cowen commented: “I find it fascinating that Minister Brendan Howlin decided to launch the bill during the summer recess in the hope that it may not get too much attention and slip through unnoticed. This is another example of the underhanded approach taken by this Government to much of its business.
“His colleague, Environment Minister Phil Hogan promised proper local government reform before the summer recess, and this is just another example of broken promises by this Government. Instead of a comprehensive package of local government reform, he seems intent on drip feeding little bits of legislation which are frankly all over the place.
“Any reform of local government must be meaningful and at the moment this is sadly not the case. Major issues like upward only rent reviews have yet to be tackled and the Minster only scratches the surface with this Bill.
“Local Government financing must be overhauled if businesses are to be given a fighting chance to survive. However, the Government’s punishment of local authorities for the Government’s own mistakes in the household charge does not indicate meaningful change. The bill fails to live up to best practise, as the UK model shows.
“My colleague, John McGuinness has moved a Valuation Amendment Bill 2012 in the Dáil and it provides for the introduction of a property valuation self-assessment mechanism. It also provides for an ability to pay clause and the abolition of liability on a subsequent occupier to pay property rates incurred by a previous occupier.
“The inability to pay clause, which is standard in valuation procedures in the UK, is a key measure to help alleviate pressure on struggling businesses. It is a central demand of the Irish Employers for Affordable Rates (IEAR) group and their vision for a reformed Rate Valuation process in Ireland.
“Another worrying aspect of the bill is it does not appear to make it self-assessment the standard procedure to speed up the valuation process. Fianna Fáil has consistently called for self-assessment to be introduced across the country in order to speed up the process and help businesses that are bearing a disproportionate burden of rates.
“Overall, this bill fails dismally to address many of the most important issues facing businesses throughout the country and the Minister needs to produce a comprehensive package to follow through on his promise to reform local government in Ireland.”