DCU economist questions timing of 'staycation voucher' in July stimulus plan

DCU economist questions timing of 'staycation voucher' in July stimulus plan
Due to Covid-19 the Government has asked people to holiday in Ireland this year. Picture; David Creedon / Anzenberger

Economics professor Tony Foley has questioned why the ‘staycation voucher’ included in the July stimulus plan will not commence until October.

The senior lecturer and head of the economics finance and entrepreneurship group in DCU's Business School told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show that he thought the initiative to support the domestic hotel and restaurant sector should have commenced immediately.

Later today, the Government will announce its long-awaited stimulus plan with a package of about €7bn including capital spending, welfare and employment supports, grants and tax cuts.

Under the ‘staycation voucher’ scheme consumers will be able to claim a tax refund of up to €125 when they spend in the region of €600 on accommodation, food or non-alcoholic drinks.

Prof. Foley pointed out that last year 20 million bed nights were from overseas visitors while the domestic market was eight million. 

Any development of the home industry is not going to make up for the loss of foreign visitors, he said.

“But it will be a boost.” The stimulus package is the first step of many that will be required to help the economy. 

Many measures will be required to keep the economy and the country “ticking over” he said, but the country is still going to be left “with major problems". 

The country will never pay back the debt caused by Covid-19, the real problem will be in five years when there is an increase in interest rates, he said. 

At the moment no country in Europe is worrying about borrowing, he said, “These are strange times that require strange responses.”

The July stimulus plan also includes other measures to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus in Ireland. 

It is expected both the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme will be extended until April next year.

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