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Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar has praised the ‘pro-business and pro-jobs’ Budget, highlighting the VAT reduction for hospitality and tourism among other measures

The VAT rate paid by hotels, pubs, restaurants and other business in the sector will be reduced from 13.5% to 9%, with many such companies now closed or operating at minimal capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The waiver on commercial rates will apply until the end of the year, and businesses that are forced to cease trading due to Level 3 restrictions or higher can avail of the COVID Restrictions Support Scheme, with weekly payments of up to €5,000.
Leo Varadkar has called the Budget pro-business and pro-jobs. Pic: Julien Behal Photography

Qualifying businesses in industries such as accommodation, food, the arts, recreation and entertainment will receive a payment based on their 2019 average weekly turnover.

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme has also been extended to the end of March 2021, and Mr Varadkar said the much-touted €3.4bn recovery fund would ‘give us the firepower we need to protect jobs.’

The Tanaiste also drew attention to the €10bn in infrastructure commitments for next year that would ‘ensure there is work for the construction sector’.

The earned income credit for self-employed workers has been increased to up to €1,650, matching the employee tax credit for PAYE workers, and the self-employed will also bee able to defer their preliminary tax liability this year.

‘No one could have predicted the year that we have just had, and I want businesses and workers to know that as we face into more uncertain times, the government is here for you and on your side,’ Mr Varadkar said.

Other measures announced include a €100m to help businesses adapt to Brexit, including €15m to prepare for next customs and tariffs and €8m for market surveillance and certification in the event of a trade deal.

The IDA has been given €10m to develop sites outside Dublin for FDI. Pic: Collins

Some €39m has been approved for low-cost business loans €30m for applied pharmaceutical and healthcare research, and €10m to help retailers move online.

IDA Ireland, the state agency for attracting foreign direct investment, has been granted €10m to develop factories and industrial estates outside of Dublin, and €30m has been ringfenced to create jobs in the regions.

Another €6.6m has been earmarked for a state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing centre in Limerick to help Irish companies develop new technologies, and €3m has been touted for a network of digital hubs to help modernise SMEs.

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