Pressure is on to return to the Celtic Tiger years with demands for tax cuts as Ireland’s economic growth looks set to outstrip China’s, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin has said.
However, the Labour minister has also admitted that measures will have to be introduced to help builders get increased profits, if the housing crisis is to be tackled.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Howlin outlined priorities for next week’s budget that he is finalising with Michael Noonan, the finance minister.
With new exchequer data showing another bounce in economic growth, there is a push on the Government to return to the spending levels of the boom years, he said.
“The pressure is already there to revisit the Celtic Tiger,” he said. “People forget so quickly. You can see it from the construction industry, you can see it from the way people want to go back to the old ways of doing everything.”
Nonetheless, Mr Howlin admits the solution to tackling the housing crisis is to ensure builders get a guaranteed profit.
“In the private sector, we need to make sure that we get builders back into building,” he said. “I know what they want, obviously they’re looking for reduced taxes.
“We need to make sure that there is a margin to be made by builders and that builders start building houses and that any impediments to that are removed, but not in a way that creates future long term problems.
“Obviously we have to make it attractive for builders to build again. And that means increasing the margins to an acceptable level for the builder on each unit developed.”
Mr Howlin said some measures are still being finalised. “The cost of land being one, the slowness of planning permission being another,” he said.
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