Cork Chamber called it a “missed opportunity” by the Minister of Finance to exclude the docklands development project as a beneficiary of this year’s budget.
Cork Chamber president Joe Gantly said he was expressing “acute disappointment that the minister did not commit to the inclusion of targeted financial incentives in the budget for the development of the Cork docklands”.
The chamber said it feels the minister has lacked “considerable foresight”.
“Cork Chamber has consistently called on the Government for the introduction of these incentives in Budget 2008 given the huge importance which they play in guaranteeing the future success of the Cork Docklands Project,” said Mr Gantly.
“In light of these developments, the chamber now urges the Government to incorporate these financial incentives into the upcoming Finance Act if we are to realise the opportunity presented within an appropriate time frame.
“What we need now is delivery from Government on their commitment to balanced regional development, by supporting a key project such as the Cork docklands,” said Mr Gantly.
In its pre-budget submission, Cork Chamber called on the Government to introduce financial incentives to aid the city’s docklands developments.
Chairman of the chamber budget taskforce, Damian Riordan, said in October that the Government must introduce a number of targeted financial incentives, both in Budget 2008 and the Finance Act, in order to overcome a number of significant hurdles which the proposed development faces.
Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen said the docklands project has been dealt a hammer blow by the Finance Minister.
“Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that the Government have delivered another slap in the face to Cork as it seems to be one of their favourite pastimes.
“Without serious government commitment the docklands will not get off of the ground,” he said.
Meanwhile, tax partner at KPMG in Cork, Michael Lynch, said the failure by the minister to introduce any form of incentives in yesterday’s budget can only act as a hindrance to the planned redevelopment of this part of the city.
“Given the EU’s approval and time frame for special urban renewal incentives for Cork docklands and the general slowdown facing the construction sector, there could not be a better time than the present for the minister to deliver.
“I hope between now and February the minister has a serious re-think about financial incentives and tax measures applicable to the docklands and will include same in Finance Act 2008,” he said.
Ernst & Young also said they hope the minister will continue to consider tax incentives for the development.
The development of Cork’s docklands is seen as a priority for the city’s long-term development.
The plan is set out in the Cork Docklands Development Strategy (2001) and includes plans for residential, employment and leisure opportunities.