SINN Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan believes the solutions proposed in his party’s alternative budget would give Limerick’s workers and families a “break”.
Deputy Quinlivan, who chaired the launch of his party’s Alternative Budget on Tuesday, insists that rent is one of the key causes of stress and insecurity among families and working people in Limerick.
“Despite rental costs being a big problem for years now, the government has failed to take any real action. They have made a political choice to prioritise landlords over tenants,” he told the Limerick Post.
“There are solutions to the rental crisis. Our Alternative Budget would set aside €279 million for a refundable tax credit, given to all renters, which would be equal to one month’s rent.”
According to the Limerick politician, his party would also introduce an emergency rent freeze, which would be imposed on all existing and new tenancies for three years, ensuring renters won’t be squeezed any further.
“We recognise these are only temporary measures, needed to stabilise the markets and people’s finances, and so we have substantial plans for house building which would address the severe shortage of housing across the State. We show how 17,216 social and affordable homes, which is 8,700 more than the government’s plan, could be built in 2020, at a cost of €1.072 billion,” he claimed.
Deputy Quinlivan also sees the health service as another critical issue in Limerick, and is proposing new solutions that would make a real difference.
“We would introduce two free GP visits for everyone without a GP or medical card, a measure that would cost €268.8 million next year. Next year we would also recruit an extra 500 nurses and midwives, provide medical cards for cancer patients, and introduce universal access to free counselling on a GP referral basis.
“The overcrowding crisis is to the fore in Limerick, and we are proposing to open an additional 500 beds, including the associated doctors and health professionals, at a cost of €160.2 million next year.
“We would commence a transformational five-year programme of childcare reform that ensures childcare workers are properly paid and childcare fees are slashed by two thirds for parents. This would cost €28 million in 2020 rising to a full year investment of €85 million going forward.”
The obvious next question, he pointed out, is how Sinn Féin would fund the extra measures.
“Our revenue-raising measures are detailed in our Alternative Budget too.
“If you’re earning less than €140,000 we would not touch your income tax rates, but if you as an individual are earning more than that, we would ask you to contribute a little more. Our Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty, would also target the tax loopholes exploited by corporations and the wealth of millionaires.
“We would tax intangible assets on-shored by multinationals, raising €722 million, we would introduce a five per cent high-income levy on individual incomes above €140,000, bringing in €345 million for the Exchequer, and we would introduce a wealth tax for the wealthiest 0.25 per cent in the State, at a rate of one per cent on the portion of wealth held over €1 million, meaning an additional €89 million for investment in public services.
“Our proposals are the type of bold and decisive solutions needed to make a real difference, and these are only a sample of our suggestions, which cover every government department and sector.
“Our Alternative Budget shows how the State’s income can be spent in a different, fairer, way, and highlights that millionaires can, and should pay more, towards our public services. Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget demonstrations different choices can be made, and our budget would give workers and families a break, something that is well overdue,” he concluded.