Tuesday 30 September 2008

Docklands tax breaks ‘must be delivered’

THE Government must deliver a range of tax breaks in the budget to kickstart the multi-billion regeneration of Cork’s docklands, business leaders demanded last night.

Cork Chamber will unveil a detailed pre-budget submission today outlining what it says the Government must do to stimulate the nationally important project.

The deferral of tax and accelerated capital allowances are among the suggestions.

But, specifically, the chamber said tax breaks for developers building public infrastructure are crucial.

They said a 20% tax credit of the capital expenditure incurred by the provider of such infrastructure should be provided.

Developers Howard Holdings have proposed an €80 million Eastern Gateway Bridge as part of its Atlantic Gateway project. But other suggested tax breaks include:

n100% capital allowances for the construction of SEVESO facilities that re-locate from the docklands.

n100% capital allowances in the year of construction for capital expenditure on the remediation of contaminated sites.

nCapital gains taxation (CGT) roll-over relief for businesses which have to relocate.

n 100% write-off for capital expenditure for owner-occupiers in the docklands.

nAnd a package of measures to attract the R&D sector which is approved for EU State Aid purposes.

Maurice Minogue, chairman of the chamber’s budget working group, said a commitment to finance the development of the Eastern Gateway Bridge is essential.

“A professional cost-benefit analysis has proven that this would yield significant returns to the exchequer.”

Chamber chief executive Conor Healy said they were urging the Government to “consider providing the most strategic and open minded support” to unlock the potential of the docklands.

Cork’s lord mayor Brian Bermingham welcomed the chamber’s submission. “By unlocking the potential of the docks we can boost the city’s population and create massive employment opportunities in a sustainable way. This will benefit the entire southern region,” he said.

The city council’s blueprint for the 160 hectare docklands region envisages the development of a thriving urban waterfront.

The project has the potential to create thousands of construction jobs. The new “city” could accommodate a population of at least 15,000 and a working population of about 20,000.

Up to 6,000 homes will be built alongside more than 500,000 square metres of offices, educational institutions, retail outlets and culture and leisure facilities.

Howard Holdings have lodged a massive planning application for the site of the former Fords distribution centre. And Origin Enterprises are also planning to develop the R & H Halls site.

Business leaders were disappointed when docklands tax breaks were not included in last December’s budget.

Assurances were given at the time that future budgets would deal with the issue. However, with public finances collapsing, the October 14 budget is expected to be the toughest since 1983. Cuts of up to €1.5 billion are expected in what commentators have dubbed the “bloodbath” budget.

Irish Examiner


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