Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance Michael McGrath has expressed concern over the Government’s lack of readiness for Brexit after it was confirmed that only one third of the required extra 600 customs officials will be operational on March 29 of next year.
Deputy McGrath has written to the Oireachtas Finance Committee suggesting that the Revenue Commissioners be invited to attend before it to discuss their preparedness for all possible Brexit scenarios.
“The figures confirmed by Minister Paschal Donohoe demonstrate that, by March 2019, the Revenue will only have one third of the extra officials it needs to have in place to deal with Brexit. The Revenue have informed government they will need 600 extra staff because of Brexit, based on scenario of a transition period after March 2019 and a future trade agreement between the EU and the UK. However, the government only plans to have 200 in place.
“Therefore, in the benign scenario of a transition period, the Revenue will be significantly under resourced. In a ‘no deal’ scenario, the Revenue will be hopelessly resourced to deal with the consequences come 29 March 2019. While we all sincerely hope a deal will be done, the possibility of a hard Brexit can by no means be discounted.
“Given that Article 50 was invoked by the UK in March 2017, the government has had two years notice of the March 2019 date and has clearly failed to prepare adequately. A transition period was always going to be the best possible outcome and yet the government has not provided the resources necessary to deal with this in a timely manner.
“Around 8% of import declarations are classified by Revenue as either ‘orange’ or ‘red’ and these imports require documentary checks and physical examination. Last year, some €17.4 billion worth of goods were imported from Great Britain. This will mean that the Revenue Commissioners will be faced with a monumental challenge in a ‘no deal’ scenario.
“Fianna Fáil supports the Government in their diplomatic efforts to secure the best deal possible for Ireland but we cannot turn a blind eye to their complacency and lack of preparedness here at home. The Government simply needs to step up its efforts to get Ireland ready. I have written to the Oireachtas Finance Committee suggesting that the Revenue come before us at the earliest possible date to discuss our preparedness for all possible Brexit scenarios”, concluded McGrath.