This week saw two strong indications of the short-term future for the region.
The Budget was a favourable one for most sectors of the economy, including business and the SME sector. Paddy Malone PRO of the Chamber says that most of the issues we raised in our Budget submission were addressed.
However, the detail in some cases needs to be examined.
The details of the Budget statements were scrutinised by Rachel Dillon, Partner in Ernst and Young, EY at our Budget breakfast which was attended by over 200 people. The Breakfast was once again sponsored by PayPal.
We welcome the support for energy costs but are disappointed that some professional business such as dentists may be excluded. We also welcome the fact that there was no increase in Capital Taxes or VAT. However, we are disappointed that the hospitality rate of 9% will be abolished in February 2023.
This will make the 2023 tourist season a difficult one, despite the strength of the US dollar.
We note the continued support to the All-Island Fund but note that the proposal to allow cross border investments has once again been ignored.
We also note that although the Living City Initiative has been extended in time the number of locations is still restricted. The Growth Centres identified in the National Development Plan 2040, which includes both Drogheda and Dundalk should be included.
We were delighted that the two asks we made last year to the Tánaiste when he visited Dundalk have both been achieved. Again, there is some concern over the detail but employers in Dundalk will be able to use the Shop Local Vouchers twice in the year up to a maximum of €500 on each occasion. This means that for the Christmas bonus the maximum will be €1,000 if not used already this year and that next year it could be used at summer holidays/bonus AND Christmas.
Dundalk’s Shop Local is the most successful in the country supporting the retail sector.
The retail sector will temporarily come under pressure in the next few weeks with the fall in sterling. Una McGooey, President of the Chamber has asked people to consider the total costs when considering shopping cross border, including transport cost, time and other costs not to mention the potential loss of jobs in the retail sector. Sterling has fallen by 5% which means a maximum saving of only €10 on €200, before the extra costs are considered.