ICMSA President criticises ‘Untouchable Status’ of Croke Park and warns against ‘Asset Test’ for Third Level grants.
Commenting on today’s announcement by Minister Howlin, Jackie Cahill. President of ICMSA, said that the cuts in farm schemes – including the changes to the Farm Assist Scheme – will undoubtedly impact seriously on family farm incomes and he contrasted the Government’s willingness to renege on agreements with farmers with what he described as the ‘untouchable status’ afforded to the Croke Park agreement.
“It’s particularly worth noting that the cuts in REPS 4 effectively renege on a contract and thus represent a sharp contrast to the ‘untouchable’ status with which the Croke Park Agreement is apparently viewed. ICMSA will strongly resist any move to apportion third levels grants on the basis of a so-called ‘asset test’ as opposed to the much more equitable basis that measures eligibility for grants on the basis of income and any such move would mean the erection of an insurmountable obstacle to the children of farming families receiving the financial help necessary for them to attend Third Level”, said Mr Cahill.
“Farmers pay all the ordinary taxes as well and we’ll need to see the details of the second day’s announcements before we’re able to describe the budget comprehensively. Mr Noonan could announce a whole range of new household charges, as well as an increase in capital taxation, and most unwisely of all, the restoration of some form of death duties. That last possibility would be ruinous in that it will soak up already scarce capital from the farming community at precisely the time when credit is incredibly difficult to locate”, said Mr Cahill, who continued by noting that the private exporting sector were still waiting for the hard evidence that the massive burden of restoring the state’s economic sovereignty was being shared by all sectors and in fair proportion to their ability to shoulder that burden.
“At Departmental and agency level, the evidence of the radical reform needed is still very sketchy and vague. Farmers are asking themselves what has happened to all the much-heralded structural change that was to take place. For instance, dairy farmers are facing a new levy to fund Bord Bia’s marketing drive; but surely Bord Bia’s marketing drive should have been paid for by a re-allocation of existing resources. It is an absurdity – and one bordering on a farce, at that – that some of the most protected and indeed over-paid groups in our society continue to enjoy the relative immunity guaranteed byCrokePark, while the exporting sector – which is the only way out of this economic nightmare – is effectively asked to bear existing and new costs”.
Ends 5 December 2011.
Jackie Cahill, 087-2820663
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office