Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - October 16, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Oct 16, 2014 - 11:56 AM

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Irish Independent

Fine Gael TDs have warned Taoiseach Enda Kenny that the controversy over mounting customer complaints at Irish Water and its bonus culture threaten to turn it into another medical card fiasco.

During a stormy party meeting, backbenchers expressed their anger to Mr Kenny and compared Irish Water to the HSE. The dissent comes as the Government promised to give every household help paying water bills.

That follows an embarrassing Budget day blunder in which 200,000 families were omitted from two schemes to ease the pain of the new charges.

Officials were last night scrambling to come up with a fairer formula for reducing the burden of water charges.

But pressure is now intensifying on Irish Water executives. Labour Party TDs also complained to Tanaiste Joan Burton about Irish Water's handling of complaints.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan says he is concerned landlords will drive up rent in response to a decision by their tenants not to pay their bills.

Mr Noonan today warned that there can no situation where a households water is cut off but admitted that there is confusion over whether tenants or landlords are liable to pay.

“What they (landlords) are more likely to do as well is pay the bill and raise the rent,” he said, adding that the matter needs to be clarified by Irish Water.

Speaking to Pat Kenny on ‘Newstalk’ this morning, the Fine Gael minister said he believes the semi-state company needs to improve its communication skills.

“ I think they have a communications problem,” he said.

But he claimed Irish Water will be a “very good organisation” over time and insisted that it was set up in order to address a looming water crisis in the capital.

After winning the Budget battle over the income tax rate cut, Taoiseach Enda Kenny pressed home the advantage yesterday by confirming there will be further rate reductions in the coming years, before the general election and beyond.

The Labour Party was veering more towards raising the threshold for entering into the top rate of tax or tax credits.

But in a series of speeches in the run-up to the Budget, Mr Kenny made it clear his focus was on reducing the marginal rate made up of income tax, the USC and PRSI.

In the end, income tax was latched on to as the mechanism for reducing the marginal rate of 52pc. Income tax will fall from 41pc to 40pc next year with a corresponding increase in the rate of USC paid by those earning more than €70,000 from 7pc to 8pc, to reduce some of the gains for high earners.

Irish Times

State agencies and Government Ministers and officials have launched a co-ordinated campaign of letters and phone calls to senior executives of foreign multinationals, to reassure them that Ireland remains a top destination for investment following the budget,

Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton hosted a conference call with officials and executives from up to 60 US multinationals yesterday afternoon, to discuss some of the measures that might affect them.

On Tuesday, Martin Shanahan, the chief executive of the inward investment agency IDA Ireland, also wrote to about 1,000 companies to explain the State’s budget proposals relating to foreign direct investment.

After seven lean budgets, a return to growth has allowed room to manoeuvre. Key elements contributing to this include a rise in employment, a fall in unemployment and a shift towards user charges financing for water.

In assessing the impact on living standards, we take into account the direct tax and welfare package and next year’s water charges.

The full picture is captured by Switch, the ESRI tax-benefit model, drawing on data from more than 4,500 households in the CSO’s Survey on Income and Living Conditions.

UK lender Lloyds has offloaded a € 1.1 billion portfolio of 4,000 Irish non-performing residential mortgages to US private equity fund Lone Star.

Lloyds, which operated in Ireland under the Bank of Scotland/Halifax brands, is understood to have sold the “Project Paris” loan book at a discount, but the scale of the write-down is not clear.

Lloyds withdrew from the Irish market in 2010, and has run down its non-core Irish loan book from about €16 billion in 2009 to €13.4 billion as of June 2014.

In a statement, Lloyds said that the transaction is in line with its strategy of deleveraging its balance sheet and reducing its non-core assets.

Irish Examiner

Three in five workers are just glad to have a job but half of those working are making no provision for their retirement, a study has found.

In keeping with a number of recent studies highlighting the inadequate rate of pension provision, research compiled by investment and pension company Irish Life has found that 49% of working adults do not have a pension in place.

Almost three-quarters of people (73%) would choose to work for a firm that provided a company pension, indicating a desire to save.

Irish Life corporate business managing director David Harney said it was in the best interests of employers as well as employees to provide a pension plan for workers.


Euro Topics: The Euro 2016 qualifying match between Serbia and Albania on Tuesday evening in Belgrade was interrupted after heavy rioting broke out among the players and spectators when a drone carrying the flag of Greater Albania flew over the pitch. Hatred and distrust still dominate in the former Yugoslavia, commentators write, and blame Europe's football association Uefa for ignoring the potential for tensions.

Mutual hatred omnipresent in ex-Yugoslavia: Nationalistic hatred is still rife in the western Balkans, and not just on the football pitch, the liberal daily Jutarnji List laments: "One must concede that the Albanians have achieved an unprecedented level of innovation when it comes to abusing football. However we can also shudder at the explosion of hate the Albanian roar triggered among the Serb fans. But let's be honest: the Croat national player Joe Šimunić tried to provoke just such feelings of hatred after the Croatia-Iceland game [with his fascist salute]. To say nothing of the commonplace chant 'Kill the Serbs' in Croatian stadiums. No one has a monopoly on nationalistic hatred on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Nationalistic hatred and distrust are what all the nations of the former state have in common, as the last elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina demonstrated in which the nationalist parties triumphed."

Paris and Rome endanger Eurozone economy: Widespread scepticism about the state of the economy caused share prices to plunge on Wednesday. The Spanish share index Ibex dropped by 3.59 percent. France and Italy in particular must take action and introduce economic reforms to prevent the looming recession in the Eurozone, the conservative daily ABC insists: "Apart from Germany, whose problems are a result of the tensions with Russia, and the chronic instability of Greece, the most worrying factor is the paralysis of France and Italy. Despite all the promises their governments still haven't approved effective measures against the crisis. Both countries - the second and third largest economies in the EU - must finally introduce the reforms and adjustment programmes that have helped countries like Spain to weather the recession and regain their competitiveness. At the same time the ECB must deploy all its economic stimulus resources to avoid the feared third recession."

German authorities play down Ebola threat: The EU health ministers will convene today to discuss how to prevent the spread of the life-threatening Ebola virus. But the German authorities are trivialising the problem by pointing to the efficiency of their health system, the liberal German weekly Die Zeit criticises: "What we're seeing in Britain, where potential weaknesses are being publicly identified and [the current emergency] exercises carried out, cannot be called panic-mongering. On the contrary, they sharpen the senses. ... Experience shows that doctors, nurses and attendants sometimes forget the appropriate procedures. People who work in normal hospitals now need refresher courses on how to deal with infectious patients. ... Because time and again things that shouldn't happen do happen. In any event, there's no cause for health chauvinism. What is needed in dealing with the Ebola virus is a little less pride and a little more humility."

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