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CITY TRIBUNE

Top economist warns of VAT-back ‘disaster’ for retail and tourism

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Changes to the VAT rebate scheme for non-EU tourists could spell disaster for the retail and tourism sectors in Galway, a leading economist has warned.

As part of the Government’s Brexit Bill, the so-called Retail Export Scheme which allows non-EU tourists to claim VAT refunds on Irish crafts and gifts will soon be limited to purchases in excess of €175 – there had previously been no such limit in place.

The refund scheme is currently availed of by hordes of American and Chinese tourists to reclaim the tax applied to gifts purchased from Galway retailers.

Jim Power, one of the country’s top economists, has compiled a report looking at the potential impact of this move and has predicted that Galway suffer significant job losses and business closures if the Government doesn’t row back on this proposal.

Mr Power said that almost 85% of refunds under the current scheme are less than €175, adding that existing scheme provides invaluable support to small family-run retailers in Galway.

“The Retail Export Scheme contributes €108.1 million to the economy, with a large proportion of this spent outside Dublin. The proposed new legislation will risk many jobs in Galway and will put people out of business. It is crystal clear that economic activity, employment and the overall health of the retail and tourism sectors in Galway are at risk.

“Introducing the €175 limit on the Retail Export Scheme could undermine competitiveness and decimate the Irish tourism and retail sectors, particularly along the Wild Atlantic Way,” said Mr Power.

Aidan Daly, who works for Galway-based Planet – a company which provides tax refund and international payment services, employing around 250 people locally and 1,500 worldwide – said the new legislation will see reduced tourist numbers and reduced spending by those who do come.

“Roughly €10 million was spent in Galway in 2019 by non-EU tourists. If new legislation is passed, half of this spend is at risk, as this accounts for all goods sold in Galway under €175.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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