Independent reports that introducing further tax hikes in December's Budget
risks stifling recovery in the domestic economy, Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI)
With consumers still saving more than ever amid the prolonged downturn, there
are fears that any attempt to squeeze more from taxpayers will firmly put the
lid on any potential uptick in spending.
People will be paying the new property tax and are also facing ongoing pressure
on their finances for a range of costs such as motor fuel and rising gas bills.
"There are two economies in Ireland at present," said Austin Slattery, president
of Chartered Accountants Ireland, the largest representative body of the
"While internationally traded goods and services are holding their own in export
markets, the indigenous domestic economy continues to struggle. Unemployment
continues to grow. After five years of successive tax increases, we cannot
afford the damage to the domestic economy any further with more tax hikes in
The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the volume of
retail sales in Ireland rose 0.7pc between June and July, but are down 1.5pc
over a 12-month period. Since 2005, they have fallen 10pc. Excluding the motor
trade, the volume of retail sales was 1.1pc higher in July than June.
The CAI said it accepts the need for property tax to replace stamp duty revenue,
but insists that no other taxes should be raised by the Government next year.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, CAI director of taxation Brian Keegan said
the country could be close to reaching a "tipping point" where further increases
to the personal tax burden might result in declining Exchequer revenues.
He said rising unemployment remains a major issue, with each additional
unemployed person costing the State about €20,000 a year when lost tax revenue
and welfare payments are factored in.
The Government is aiming to raise €500m from the controversial property tax in
its push for a €3.5bn fiscal adjustment in the upcoming Budget.
Expenditure cuts will account for €2.25bn of the planned adjustment, with tax
increases accounting for €1.25bn.
But the Fiscal Advisory Council -- set up at the behest of the troika -- has
called on the Government to make further adjustments equal to that planned in
December's Budget in both 2014 and 2015. It says income tax increases shouldn't
be ruled out to meet adjustment targets.
The Sunday Independent reported yesterday tat he
chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) John McGuinness has said
he finds it utterly inconceivable that there is no record of crucial notes or
minutes of meetings where former Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan and
ex-Taoiseach Brian Cowen delivered frank assessments of the Department of
Finance whose failings helped bankrupt the country.
After an almost two-year Freedom of Information battle, department officials
have claimed there are "no records" of meetings that went on for hours between
Mr Cowen and Mr Lenihan and a panel led by Rob Wright -- a former deputy
minister for finance in Canada -- into why the department failed to prevent
Ireland's financial Armageddon.
Kevin Cardiff, the department's then secretary general who was in charge of
banking during the boom, has claimed that he had "no formal meetings" with the
Wright commission and he kept no notes of informal ones. The department admits
its records show Mr Cardiff was due to meet Mr Wright on both August 9, 2010,
and August 10, 2010, but has no records of what may have been said.
"It is totally beyond credibility that no records of these meetings exist," Mr
McGuinness said. "These were high-level meetings relating to the biggest
decisions in the State's history. We are expected to believe that Kevin Cardiff
was the head of banking, and no notes. Brian Lenihan was the Minister for
Finance and we're told there are no notes.
"Brian Cowen was the Taoiseach and we are told there are no notes. Someone
somewhere has a record of those meetings.
"When Kevin Cardiff was before the Pac, he was able to recall documents and
emails instantly before our eyes to do with the €3.6bn error and redact
sections. It is not credible that notes or records don't exist, or at least did
exist at some stage," he said.
"Wright's report, which he produced in 2010, was described as 'thorough' by
Lenihan but it has now emerged the Wright panel never interviewed former
Taoiseach and Minister for Finance Bertie Ahern, the man arguably most
responsible for our collapse.
The Sunday Independent spoke to three senior sources who spoke to Mr Lenihan
many times during his time as Minister for Finance to try to gauge what he might
They all said Mr Lenihan told them that he had "serious concerns" about some
senior officials in his own department.
"Brian wasn't impressed by his officials and distrusted some of them," said a
source who knew Mr Lenihan well.
"His view was there were officials who worked incredibly hard during the crisis
but there were also other senior civil servants who were more concerned with
protecting their own asses than the country."
Things got so bad, the sources said, Mr Lenihan held many crucial meetings with
senior banking and business figures in the run up to the bank guarantee outside
the walls of the department in order to prevent damaging leaks of his real
Mr McGuinness, who is fighting to be allowed hold a bank inquiry, said it was
vital that clarity emerged about what Mr Lenihan, Mr Cowen and Mr Cardiff told
He said he could only do so if given the power to do so by Minister for Public
Expenditure Brendan Howlin.
Mr McGuinness accused the Mr Howlin of abandoning his promise as there is no
mention of it in the list of proposed legislation for this new Dail term.
Mr McGuinness said only a full independent inquiry as proposed earlier this year
by the PAC will have the power to discover all relevant documents relating to
the night of the bank guarantee, the decision to nationalise Anglo Irish Bank
and the decision to establish Nama.
The Irish Times reports that the
Government will use its presidency of the European Union next year to advance
plans for a “youth guarantee” scheme that would ensure young people who are out
of work will automatically be directed into employment, education or training.
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has
said she will use the presidency, from January next year, to help deliver
proposals for the new scheme, which would be targeted at any under-25s who are
out of work.
She was unable to say when the scheme could be
delivered or how much it would cost, but she expressed confidence that money
could be sourced from the European Social Fund.
Latest figures from Eurostat, the European
statistics agency, show unemployment among people aged 18-24 in Ireland is at
about 30 per cent, while levels in Greece and Spain are just over 50 per cent.
“All the evidence is that a prolonged period of
youth unemployment – especially for young men – is extremely damaging,” Ms
Burton told The Irish Times. “The purpose of a youth guarantee is to reduce that
period to as short a time as possible and offer alternative pathways.”
She said similar schemes in Austria and Germany –
which have relatively low levels of youth unemployment – have proved successful.
Under the plans, which are still being drawn up
at European level, governments would initially fund training, further education
or apprenticeships for any young person who is out of work for four months or
As the job-seeker then gains more experience in
the workplace, the employer would begin to pay.
Ms Burton said she would be hosting a meeting of
other European social protection ministers in February of next year and would
work “flat out” to push the plan forward.
“If the EU is to return to its founding mission,
then it has to rebalance to include a really linked-up focus on how young people
transition from school and college into the world of work.”
Groups such as Youth Work Ireland and the
National Youth Council of Ireland have urged the Government to adopt some form
of youth guarantee, but have pointed out that many young people cannot afford to
wait much longer for support.
Fianna Fáil’s social protection spokesman Willie
O’Dea said he supported any measure that would target youth unemployment, but
said the youth guarantee plan sounded too vague.
“The bottom line is there are no jobs and about
100 people emigrating a day,” he said. “Training and education is fine, but to
qualify into what?”
Many future training and apprenticeship
opportunities will be available through Solas, a new agency which will replace
FÁS. This authority will be responsible for the co-ordination and funding of
further education and training through vocational education committees.
Ms Burton said she was keen to see courses and
apprenticeships of high quality and to have close links with employers, as is
the case in countries such as Germany.
In the meantime, she said reforms were under way
to create a series of “one-stop shops” where jobseekers of any age could get
advice and support on welfare and job opportunities. This is part of the
Government’s policy of creating a social welfare service that is less impersonal
and places a greater emphasis on giving unemployed people advice on training and
The first of these offices is due to be opened in
Sligo shortly, while 20 more will come into operation over the coming months.
Ms Burton said she wanted to build closer
connections between the welfare system and local employers and is planning a
series of roadshows to promote these links.
The Irish Times also reports
that thousands of job-seekers thronged the Convention Centre Dublin at the
weekend in search of new careers, as some of Ireland’s major employers went on a
Career Zoo covered everything from career advice
for graduates and those who were looking for a change of direction to jobs in
tech, pharma and other industries.
Candidates met companies, got information on the
jobs on offer and submitted CVs to those firms in which they were interested.
To stand out from the thousands of attendees,
some prospective candidates employed some unusual methods.
One man seeking a job at Twitter customised a
T-shirt outlining his intention to work at the firm as an account manager, and
included a QR code that linked directly to his CV when scanned.
It impressed the Twitter team and its director of
online sales and operations for its international business, Stephen McIntyre, so
much that the picture made it into a talk he gave at the event.
“Twitter is not just a trivial product; it’s a
transformational platform. I wanted to be a part of something bigger that had
some sort of a world impact,” McIntyre said. “Many companies do and Twitter is
one of them.
Employees still had the chance to become one of
the first 50 employees at the firm, he told listeners, but it wouldn’t be that
way for long.
The company is hiring for its international
office on Dublin’s Harcourt Road – incidentally, the same place at which Google
Ireland was previously located.
Although the international heavyweights were
present – Microsoft, AOL, Amazon – plenty of Irish firms were recruiting too,
including Blueface, Swrve and FeedHenry.
Enterprise Ireland is backing an initiative aimed
at promoting career opportunities in Irish-owned software firms.
“This is all about Irish-owned software
companies,” said Anne Lanigan, senior development adviser with Enterprise
“They’re mostly quite small, very innovative and
the kind of work they offer is really exciting. When you work in there, you’re
really part of everything that happens in the company.”
About 1,500 tech jobs were available at
indigenous Irish firms at the event, and former Irish soccer international Niall
Quinn was there to help promote the initiative. Quinn is now heading up
satellite broadband firm Qsat, which specialises in bringing high-speed
broadband to parts of the country not currently served by fibre or DSL.
“We’re on the cusp of going down five or six
different channels now, for example maritime broadband,” he said.
“To do that, we need skilled experts and they’re
not easy to find. If we get one good one from the likes of this event, they’ll
bring everyone else on in the office, and within a year or so we’ll have five or
six people upskilled.
“The sector has proved its resilience in the
toughest time that this nation has ever seen and this event is about reminding
people of that.”
The event was generally considered a success by
organiser Brian Ó hOisín, who arranged Career Zoo with Jackie Slattery and the
“We’re extremely pleased. The employers are all
delighted with the quality of the applicants as well as the number and the
feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” Ó hOisín said.
“It’s been a really exciting day – great energy
and buzz in the room. LinkedIn is great, but it’s quite something to meet
someone in person, make an impression, and that works.”
Another Career Zoo event is planned for February.
The Irish Examiner reports
that a Canadian recruitment company, Diamond Group of Companies, has set up its
Irish and UK headquarters in Dublin as it searches for 1,000 people to work in
Diamond Global Canada is aiming to recruit 1,000
people from Ireland over the next year and maintain the level of recruitment for
five years in order to plug Canada’s labour shortfall.
President of Diamond Group of Companies, Audrey Guth, said: "Ireland will be our
headquarters for Europe and the UK because we expect to be able to source a
sizeable percentage of our recruitment targets here in Ireland. We are looking
to Ireland not only because it is a visa exempt country but because it is an
excellent source of skilled, English speaking individuals with an excellent work
ethic. We plan to recruit 1,000 workers for our clients within the next 12
months. This demand is projected to continue well into 2016."
It is predicted that there will be a shortage of workers in Canada for the next
five years. The country will need an average of 150,000 temporary foreign
workers annually in an effort to address shortages and keep Canadian industry
The jobs on offer through Diamond Global Canada are in construction, food
service and skilled trades in the mid-western provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan
and Newfoundland on the east coast. The jobs carry temporary contracts of up to
Certain temporary skilled workers can now apply for permanent residency after
just one year working in Canada following a ruling earlier this month by
Canadian immigration minister Jason Kenney to reduce the term to one year from
Ms Guth, herself an immigrant, said: "I moved from the United States over 25
years ago. In addition to good careers in a stable economy, this vast country
offers a wonderful lifetime opportunity to explore everything from our
multi-ethnic cities to the natural wilderness that Canada is so famous for."
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