What day is the budget on? What time does the Minister start his speech at? As the build-up and speculation around budget day reaches its peak, most of the public thinks when the announcement is made; that’s it.
The reality is different, as the detail of the budget, is not contained in the Minister’s speech or the polished publications that accompany the announcement; but primarily in the Finance Bill.
As the Finance Bill is published today; interested parties should be reading the sections that are relevant to them, to see if there are any opportunities for them in the Bill to take advantage of; or if something can be dissipated that might negatively impact them.
The Finance Bill is probably the most important piece of legislation a government will introduce in a year. Quite often it can differ from budget day, as a result of a top line measure getting a public backlash, like we have seen regarding the first time buyers scheme; or in the past with changes to qualifying criteria for medical cards or the infamous 'individualisation' tax measures.
It can also change due to succinct and targeted lobbying of a particular measure; that may be of interest to a sector. This can be evidenced from a number of years ago; in 2012; when a fuel rebate was introduced to support the Haulage sector. Initially the rebate didn’t include private bus operators; but after a targeted response from the sector; they were included as part of the Finance Act.
With the Bill now published, there will now be a period of intensive engagement up until it is enacted. Interested parties who have their homework done; meaningful relationships with decision makers in place; a strategy developed; and execute intelligently will be best poised to take advantage during this period.
Given the lack of a role for the Seanad in the Finance Bill; any changes that will be made, will be at Committee or Report Stage in the Dail. So the timeframe for influencing is tight; as the Bill will be passed into law before the Oireachtas closes for its Christmas break.