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‘The levy is unfair to those of us that didn’t cut corners in the Celtic Tiger years’

The concrete pillars for the new National Children's Hospital have been manufactured at the Booth Concrete facility in Abbeyleix

One of the more unpopular aspects of last week’s Budget was the introduction of 10% levy on concrete products from next April.

The move is expected to raise €80million annually for the national coffers – and be used to fund the mica redress scheme where thousands of houses in the west of Ireland were badly effected by faulty products.

This evening a Sinn Féin motion to the Dáil is calling for the levy to be scrapped.

And a well-known Laois business has said that the levy is “unfair on those of us that didn’t cut corners in the Celtic Tiger years”.

“In general I thought the budget was very progressive and definitely did a lot for hard pressed young workers with mortgages and childcare costs,” said Peter Booth from the Laois-based, family-owned Booth Concrete business.

“In fairness it will certainly help people cope with exorbitant electricity costs for the coming months.

“(But) I was a bit disappointed however with the levy on concrete products.

“The levy was unexpected by our industry and is in my opinion unfair to those of us that didn’t cut corners in the Celtic Tiger years.

“Laois and many other counties in the midlands didn’t in any way contribute to the pyrite and mica problems but are now being asked to pay for the sins or others.

2This levy will be passed onto the people building or buying their homes and it seems harsh considering they already have bourne significant increases in the cost of building materials over the past 12 months.

“I understand that this levy will also go to fix apartments that were poorly fireproofed, nothing whatsoever to do with concrete products,

“Surely it would have been more logical to put a levy on the Timberframe supplier or indeed to pursue the product liability insurance that most manufacturers would have had to hold.

“There has to be serious questions asked about the engineers and architects that signed off on all these defective buildings?

“I have stated on numerous occasions that Laois currently has a deficit of authorised aggregates for the production of concrete products.

“Currently our industry has to import a large proportion of its aggregates requirements from other counties where planning is easier to obtain.

“We need to be sure that we are not importing problems that will show up in years to come.

“Luckily laois does have an abundance of good quality safe aggregates.

“We need to value these critical natural resources and planners in the local authority need to ensure that our county is self sufficient in order to provide safe, affordable, locally sourced aggregates for the concrete industry going forward.”

Meanwhile, local Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley outlined his party’s case for scrapping the Government’s concrete levy.

Deputy Stanley says “the Mica Redress Scheme is “deeply flawed’’ and unfair.’’

“The proposal to put a 10% levy on concrete products will further fuel house price inflation and construction inflation generally at a time when the price of concrete had increased by almost 50% in the past 18 months.

“This will have the effect of pushing the price of new homes further beyond the reach of first-time buyers and hitting ordinary people in their pockets.

“The estimated effect this will have on the price of new homes according to the Chartered Surveyors of Ireland ranges from €2,000 to €4,000.

“This increase will also impact the cost of farm buildings and commercial units.’’

“The Mica problem was caused by defective concrete blocks and poor construction regulation during the Celtic Tiger period and the failure of the then Government to put proper regulations in place.

“Many of the companies involved in supplying materials made mega profits and any of those companies who are still in business should bear most of the cost for Mica Remediation Scheme.

.”The €2.57 Billion that is required for the Mica redress cannot simply be loaded onto the taxpayer and home buyers.

“With the State funding the upfront cost, it is essential that large developers who used these materials along the western seaboard without carrying out proper checks also need to be held accountable. Others who profited from that construction boom should be levied and this includes some of Banks. ‘’

“It is now essential that the Government change their proposed scheme and also need to ensure that proper quality control inspections are carried out on concrete products and construction projects.”

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Steven Miller is owner and managing editor of LaoisToday.ie. Husband of Emily, father of William, Lillian and John, he's happiest when he's telling stories