The Minister for Finance has announced the retention of the 9% VAT rate in the tourism sector.

Michael Noonan told the Dáil that the case for retaining the measure in the hotel sector in Dublin was diminishing with room rates rising, but that it was necessary to retain it throughout the rest of the country.

He said the reduced VAT rate had delivered major benefits to the tourism sector and was much sought after by other sectors in the economy.

In the agri-food sector, the Minister announced the extension of the stock relief.

He said the general stock relief, the stock relief for young trained farmers, the stock relief for registered farm partnerships and the stamp duty exemption for young trained farmers would continue for a further three years to the end of 2018.

The sector was, he said, responsible for 12% of the country's exports and 169,000 jobs.

The Minister also announced the introduction of a new succession transfer proposal to provide greater certainty about the timing of the transfer of a family farm. 

An income tax credit worth up to €5,000 per annum for five years will be allocated to the partnership, he said.

He announced that an upfront excise relief would be made available to micro-breweries to assist in their cashflow.