Mixed reaction locally to Cowen budget

Health cuts will be ‘savage’ -Naughten  The 2007 Budget, delivered by the Minister for Finance Deputy Brian Cowen yesterday (Wednesday), has received the predictable mixed reaction nationwide.    That applied too in County Roscommon – at least in respect of the much-heralded changes in stamp duty.    Speaking to The People last night (Wednesday) Castlerea auctioneer Mr. Seamus Carthy said that while the reduction in stamp duty was welcome, it would have only a marginal effect on the market.   ‘The reduction is a slight help, but the price of an average house has gone down by 20 to 30 thousand euro in recent months so it will only replace the lost stamp duty in that regard.    ‘I can’t see it making a huge difference to be honest – because the market is so flat – but I suppose any reduction is a positive thing.      However to be fair to the Minister I must say that it’s a step in the right direction. Anything that would bring a confidence back ino the market is to be welcomed’ he said.    Boyle-based auctioneer Mike Smith was far more positive about the changes, which will see the stamp duty paid on an average house costing €350,000 being reduced by about one and a half per cent.   ‘I think that it’s very positive and anything that might kick-start the market is welcome. I think that it’s enough to bring the investor back into the market, so that has to be a good thing’ he said.    ‘We need a strong construction industry here in Ireland and that (budget decision) will be a big help. We have to ensure that the market is buoyant and I think the crisis will ease as a result of these moves’ he concluded.    Roscommon Fianna Fail Deputy Michael Finneran said that he was pleased with the Budget overall. ‘The Capital Budget is remaining as it was, so that’s very important as far as I’m concerned’ he said on Wednesday.    ‘A lot of the major capital projects heretofore happened on the East Coast and we have many major projects due to happen in Roscommon, such as the Ballaghaderreen bypass and the decentralisation process, so it’s really good news that all will be going ahead as planned’ he said.    ‘In other areas of the budget it was ‘steady as she goes’ although I will have to sit down and study the proposals about VRT before I can make any comment on them’ he concluded.   Fine Gael Deputy Denis Naughten says that there will be massive health cuts in 2008 as a result of the budget.   ‘Much ado about nothing I would say about this budget. The increase in childrens allowances is below the rate of inflation for instance – and wait until you see what is going to happen in 2008 with regard to health services’ he said.    ‘The facts are that inflation in the health service is now 14% and there is a budget  increase in spending for next year of 8% in health.    ‘The cuts in the health service next year will be nothing short of savage. Then we will know the whole budget story’ Deputy Naughten concluded.