[Sinn Fein]

20th February 2003

Ferris Criticises Finance Bill

The Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development Martin Ferris TD has criticised aspects of the Finance Bill currently before the Dáil. Deputy Ferris added his voice to those who have called upon Minister McCreevy to re-examine the proposals to subject sales of land on foot of Compulsory Purchase Orders to Capital Gains Tax and to abolish roll-over relief.

Deputy Ferris said:

``These issues were brought to the attention of members of the Dáil by the IFA delegation which made a submission to the Agriculture Committee last Wednesday. A number of farmers who were present outlined their position in relation to Compulsory Purchase Orders and the fact that this Bill proposes to abolish the previous exemption from Capital Gains Tax for land subject to a CPO.

``Despite what many people might believe, a Compulsory Purchase Order is not the equivalent of winning the lotto. In many cases a CPO can come as a severe blow to a farmer whose land may be fragmented and whose planning for the future is turned on its head. Up to now a farmer did at least have the comfort that he or she could reinvest in new assets without being subject to Capital Gains Tax. This change will mean that this no longer applies and it will make it more difficult for many farmers to continue their operation with the minimum of disruption.

``The issue here is not one of increasing the tax take from wealthy individuals. A minority of farmers do fall into that category, and some of these will obviously come under the changes detailed above. But the vast majority of those who will lose out in this change are small to medium farmers who are probably finding it difficult enough as it is without being placed under further constraints.

``The principle here surely ought to be that if a farmer wishes to invest in new land in order to continue to operate as he or she has been, that the same relief that has applied up until now ought to be maintained''.

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