By Michelle Devane, PA
The Tánaiste has ruled out abandoning the Government’s new concrete block levy.
Leo Varadkar said the multimillion-euro cost of the mica problem has to be recouped in some way and the taxpayer should not have to cover all of the cost.
A levy on concrete blocks, pouring concrete and certain other concrete products was announced in Tuesday’s Budget by the Finance Minister.
He said it aims to offset the “significant cost” of the redress scheme agreed earlier this year for homeowners who have been affected by the issue of defective products used in the building of their properties.
The levy is set to raise €80 million annually. It will be applied from April 3rd at a rate of 10 per cent.
Mr Varadkar said: “It’s going to cost hundreds of millions, if not billions of euros, to repair the homes affected by mica and we need to do that for those 7,000 or 8,000 families affected.
“We’re also going to need to do something to help people who live in apartments that are defective too.
“There is no quarry or two quarries that are going to come up with that kind of money, so we need to find a way to recoup some of the cost.
“It’s not fair that the taxpayer should cover all of the cost. And we believe that the cost should fall at least in part on the industry.”
He dismissed suggestion from members of the opposition that a levy should be placed on the profits of the construction industry, not on concrete products.
“I’ve heard this suggestion of putting an additional levy on the profits of the construction industry – that would be passed on too,” Mr Varadkar said.
“They would increase their prices to increase their profits to compensate themselves for the levy, so no matter what we do when you decide to socialise the cost of something, the cost has to be borne in the round by society.”
The Tánaiste made the remarks during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil on Thursday in response to Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan, who asked why the Government is not directly pursuing those who were responsible for construction defects.
Mr O’Callaghan described it as “grossly unfair” that the Government would seek to put the burden of construction defects on to people who are struggling to buy a home.
“You’ve decided to introduce a levy on concrete blocks that will add a further 3,000 to 4,000 euro to the price of a home,” Mr O’Callaghan said.
“What planet does this make sense?
“Does the Government really propose to place the cost of shoddy building work and defective materials on to the shoulders of people who are struggling to buy a home?”