Tuesday 7 August 2007

Call for stamp duty to be abolished in 'Gateway towns'

THE Government was yesterday urged to abolish stamp duty on houses in Ireland's eight 'Gateway towns' to counteract urban sprawl in Dublin.

However, a spokesman for Fine Gael warned against the danger of further destabilising the housing market with another drawn-out debate about stamp duty.

The Construction Industry Federation argues that tax incentives have been used effectively in the past to regenerate run-down areas within cities, including Dublin and Cork.

It said that similar schemes could be used to entice investors and workers to the areas targeted for accelerated development under the National Spatial Strategy (NSS).

The eight 'mini-Dublins' are a 'triangle' formed by Athlone/Tullamore/Mullingar, Cork, Dundalk, Galway, Letterkenny, Limerick/Shannon, Sligo and Waterford.

"The NSS argues that the Gateways must achieve as a minimum a population of the order of 100,000, with the larger cities such as Cork and Galway required to grow their population well in excess of this," said Martin Whelan, CIF head of public affairs.

"Practical measures such as stamp duty exemptions for people moving to the Gateways to invest or take up employment should be considered as a means of population growth." "Lead local authorities within the Gateways should be encouraged to identify the types and levels of infrastructure needed as well as the package of measures required to ensure that the infrastructure is built.

"Options might include stamp duty relief for those moving to Gateways to take up employment and taxation incentives to leverage specific infrastructure developments," said Mr Whelan.

But Fine Gael Cork TD Simon Coveney warned there is a danger that another drawn-out debate on stamp duty could lead to uncertainty in the property market.

"We should be looking at ways of giving areas outside Dublin a competitive advantage. But we don't want more uncertainty and debate starting all over again.

"We need a clear statement from Government to let people know how they're going to encourage people out of Dublin to the regions to live and work.

"To propose stamp duty changes could have the opposite effect as people might put off moving until they know what's going to happen."

Jason O'Brien
Irish Independent

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