In this afternoon's Budget for 2008 Brian Cowen, Irish Minister for Finance, gave a generous 18% increase to the Irish Film Board and renewed Section 481 Film Relief until 2012.

During the course of his budget speech the minister said, 'I am renewing Section 481 Film Relief until 2012 on the current basis.

Any adjustments to the relief will depend on the outcome of a study of the relief that I have had commissioned. Any such changes will be announced in the Finance Bill.' The finance Bill will be announced in late January or early February.

The generous increase for the Irish Film Board comes at a time of very modest increases and minor cuts in government spending. The agency's budget has been increased from $28.8m (Euros 19.6m) in 2007 to 34m (Euros 23.2m) in 2008.

Responding to the increase Film Board chair James Morris said, 'We welcome Minister Brennan's decision to implement a substantial increase in the Board's direct funding at this time. It is an endorsement of the IFB's policies for promoting and developing Irish filmmaking talent and Irish film enterprises. We are confident that Irish films will continue to grow in success and international recognition with all the wider benefits to the economy that flow from this.'

Morris went on to comment on the level of overseas productions choosing to film in Ireland having fallen to an all time low, largely as a result of Ireland's indirect tax incentives falling behind those of overseas competitors.

The Minister's decision to renew Section 481 opens the possibility that he will positively respond to the IFB's proposed amendments to Section 481, part of a recently completed Indecon review of the incentive.

Simon Perry, Irish Film BoardCEO, reacted to the Budget announcement saying, 'This extremely welcome uplift in the IFB's funding will enable us to respond to pressing needs in Irish filmmaking. We aim to provide more support for the sustained development of Irish stories with international reach, well funded schemes for the production of short films to reveal new Irish talent, and to invest in new production at a level that will stimulate the making of bigger-budget films with potential to compete in the world market.'