Bill a ‘lost opportunity’ – Siptu

Published in Irish Times, Ireland.com and msnnews.com

February 8, 2012

Siptu general president Jack O’Connor described today’s Finance Bill as “deeply disappointing and a lost opportunity”.

Mr O’Connor said while supports in the Bill for new start ups, indigenous exporters and R&D activities in SME’s may well provide a boost to these sectors, the impacts are “likely to be very small in scale and are narrowly targeted”.

He said the Bill ignores the potential benefit of infrastructural investment to the economy and “casts a blind eye to the possibility of incentivising the country’s private pension schemes to provide the finance for this”.

“With some €70bn on the balance sheets of Irish private pension funds and an infrastructure gap in the area of broadband, energy retrofitting and water treatment that have yet to be fully resourced and financed, the Government could have taken steps today to incentivise the commitment of these funds towards projects in Ireland,” he added.

Social Justice Ireland (SJI) also criticised today’s Bill saying it manipulates the tax system to benefit the better off.

The proposals to provide tax incentives aimed at luring senior multinational executives to Ireland mark a return to the “worst practices of manipulating the tax system to benefit the better off while increasing costs and cutting services for the country’s poorest” SJI said.

The Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) included in the Bill will reduce the cost to employers of assigning skilled individuals from abroad to take up positions in the Irish-based operations of their employer. An exemption from income tax on 30 per cent of a salary between €75,000 and €500,000 is provided for employees that are assigned for a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years.

Director of SJI, Dr Seán Healy said that as the financial services industry is responsible for much of the “present mess…it is preposterous the Government proposes to reduce the tax paid by top-earning executives in the sector”

“The huge gambling losses incurred by this sector are already being paid by Ireland’s tax-payers, particularly Ireland’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” he added.

The Irish Farmers Association said proposals to offset the increased cost of the carbon tax are “insufficient and unworkable”.

President John Bryan said a commitment in the programme for Government that farm equipment be exempted from further increases in the tax has not been honoured.

But the organisation welcomed proposals to strengthen the enforcement role for Revenue to combat illegal fuel trade.

Meanwhile, provisions to allow Irish structured finance companies to invest in “forest carbon credits” was welcomed by the Green IFSC’ initiative.

Paul Harris of the Green IFSC steering group said the move “should encourage the financial markets to look favourably upon Dublin’s credentials as location for listing of green and environmental bonds.”

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