Thursday, 26 May 2016

In this Programme – “There’s One for Everyone in the Audience.”



Paul Sweeney: This Programme for government is quite different from previous programmes. It is 160 pages where is the last programme was a mere 60. 

The many promises are a recognition of the vulnerability of this new minority government. It has to be more open to the views of others. In turn, this means that it will be much more difficult to be decisive in policy implementation. Yet, this handicap may lead to better policies. One of the downsides of social partnership was that issues took a long time to resolve, but the benefit was that better decisions were made in the long run, because many had contributed, foreseeing the downsides and strengthening policy. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

A New Era for Housing Policy?

Nat O'Connor: Now that there is to be a Minister of Housing, Planning and Local Government, as well as a Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, one might hope for decisive shifts in housing policy.

The Fine Gael manifesto and the Programme for Government outline a range of commitments, including delivery of more social housing and affordable housing. Regardless of ideology, one might hope that the new ministers might wish to see a more coherent and honest housing strategy. At present, housing policy is neither.

Monday, 23 May 2016

How fares tourism? A review of the Programme for Partnership Government


Dr  Ziene Mottiar: It is surprising that a sector which employs 205,000 people, brings €6.6 billion of revenue into the country and contributes €1.6 billion in taxation is given so little attention in the Partnership for Government document, especially in light of the fact that there is considerable focus on rural development within the programme.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Where ambition meets reality: new Government spending plans do not add up


Marie Sherlock: As we have learned the hard way over the past decade, there is one hell of a gap between the lofty ambition of rescuing and building the economy and the hard task of making it happen and finding the resources to do so.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

The Benefits of the Benefacts database


Nuala Haughey: A new database of information about some 18,000 non-profit organisations in Ireland will no doubt contribute to the drive for more accountability and transparency in the sector.
Billing itself “civil society online,” Benefacts is a free and searchable public directory that provides regulatory, financial and governance data about the non-profit sector which employs more than 100,000 people and has a combined annual turnover of more than €6bn. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

How the Government should tackle the housing crisis ­

Rory Hearne: The draft Programme for Partnership signals that the new Government will give urgently needed prioritisation to the housing and homelessness crisis. Positive measures include a commitment to “significantly” increase the delivery of social housing units, raising the level of rent supplement, developing “cost rental” housing, addressing mortgage arrears and progressing
the right to housing in the Constitution.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Reducing inheritance tax: populism and financialisation

James Wickham: Last week one of the first proposals of the new government was to raise the threshold for inheritance tax.  This is one of those measures that can have popular appeal and which are actually extremely regressive.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Polls indicate outcome of UK referendum on the EU too close to call - Brexit is a real possibility.

Blair Horan: Currently the polls for the UK referendum on EU membership, which takes place on 23 June, indicate that the result is on a knife edge and that Brexit is a very real possibility. While most polls conducted since the campaign began in late February show a small lead for the Remain side there is a clear  age divide with the prospect that an expected  higher turnout among older voters over 50, a majority of whom back Leave, could yet decide the outcome.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Today's UK conference on corruption is a step in the right direction, if a small one.

Paul Sweeney:   Mr David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, calling Afghanistan and Nigeria corrupt, as he hosts an anti-corruption conference, today Thursday 12th May 2016, is a good case of “the pot calling the kettle black.” 

Yet that Britain is holding the conference is welcome.

However, it is worth focusing on some of the big powers and how they are a key part of the system which facilitates corrupt leaders in developing countries who steal billions of their citizens' taxes; major criminals; tax evaders and multinationals tax avoiders in hiding vast sums of cash. 

The extent of the corruption was highlighted by the Panama papers recently. And that was the papers of only one company, although it is a very important tax cheaters’ company.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The dependence of EU farm income on public support

Alan Matthews: In spite of the substantial reforms in the structure of the CAP over the past two decades, EU agriculture remains hugely dependent on public support. The importance of public transfers, including direct payments, to EU farmers can be shown in various ways.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Tax havens, secrecy and policy options

Jim Stewart: Panama is primarily a secrecy jurisdiction. The main function of the firm at the centre of the leaked documents, Mosack Fonseca, is to incorporate entities. This often involved a chain of ownership across several ‘tax haven’ type jurisdictions. A chain of ownership is used to make identification of true owners very difficult. This is one reason why this leak is of far greater significance than other leaks, for example the Luxleaks, because the web of interconnections and chain of ownership has been revealed.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Tax havens and the Panama Papers

Jim Stewart: This blog is about tax havens: their growth; functions, characteristics, and how they might be defined. A related blog tomorrow considers in greater detail the role of Mossack Fonseca (the Panama firm at the centre of the leak), whether Ireland is a tax haven, and some of the effects and policy issues arising from publication of the Panama Papers.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Danger of Deflation

Paul Sweeney: The danger of deflation, i.e. falling prices, is that people wait to consume and so demand falls and that ultimately puts people out of work. Deflation has been hovering around for some years but so far, it has not bitten. However, it is not far off as European countries have been enduring low inflation for some time. There is also very weak demand and little growth.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Misplaced views on the keys to competitiveness

Proinnsias Breathnach: A key topic on Ireland’s radio airwaves this morning was the publication of the National Competitiveness Council’s annual “Cost of doing business in Ireland” report.  The report featured prominently on both Morning Ireland and the Seán O’Rourke programme on RTE.

Most Irish economists and business journalists have a fixation on production costs, and particularly labour costs, as the key to Ireland’s international competitiveness.  This has the nature of a religious mantra about it, based on blind faith rather than the available evidence.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Health Inequality Worsens for Irish Children

Rory Hearne: Health inequalities affect children in a number of ways. One measure of health inequality is waiting lists for various forms of treatment or assessment in our public hospital system. The recent HSE figures show that the trend in waiting lists is worsening for children in Ireland. The numbers of children waiting to be seen in hospital day cases, for example, has risen by a third (33.7%) in just over a year (from December 2014 to March 2016).

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Rebuilding Ireland: It’s time to end bogus self-employment in the construction industry


James Wickham: As far as the tax system is concerned, many workers on Irish building sites are not workers at all.  Instead of getting wages for doing a job, they are receiving a fee for a contract.  Yet many of them are working in exactly the same way as if they were being paid wages.  Indeed, many building workers can only get jobs if they agree to work as self-employed sub-contractors rather than PAYE workers.  They are in other words, some of the new ‘bogus self-employed’.  In a recent report from the Working Conditions in Ireland project TASC documented the growth of this practice and highlighted its negative consequences for workers, for the state’s finances, and indeed for the industry itself.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

How to Fund Housing and Infrastructure

Paul Sweeney: There is a simple solution to directly funding an immediate major social housing programme and other infrastructure. It is to use the billions already flowing into the Exchequer from the sale of the shares in the rescued banks for infrastructural investment, instead of paying down the national debt. Interest on the debt is only 0.7 percent and it can be paid down over a longer period from taxation.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Low pay in Ireland: causes, consequences, and solutions

Cian McMahon: This blog provides a brief overview of TASC’s recent submission to the Low Pay Commission on the level of the national minimum wage and the high proportion of women on the minimum wage. Our contribution highlights the economic and social consequences of low pay in Ireland, while also advocating for a progressive policy response.

At 23%, Ireland has among the highest incidence of low paid jobs in the OECD. The low paid are mainly women, who represent 60% of all low paid workers in Ireland. This high level of low pay amongst workers contributes to Ireland’s high level of gross (pre-tax-and-transfer) income inequality.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Five Proposals for A New Programme for Government

Rory Hearne: TASC has produced a new report (Towards Cherishing All Equally: Five Proposals for a New Programme for Government) outlining five policy proposals that could address some of the economic inequalities in Ireland. It is hoped that those involved in forming a new government, and those with a role as a responsible opposition, will find these useful. What is revealed by our analysis of the key indicators of economic inequality (see Chart 1) is that deep seated inequalities exist in Ireland. 

Monday, 4 April 2016

More Actions Needed to Curb Tax Cheating

Paul Sweeney: The recent stories in the news that there is widespread tax evasion and avoidance by the rich and powerful is hardly new. In my last blog, below, called Good News on Corporate Tax Avoidance, I was optimistic on the role of the OECD BEPs process. 
In spite of the news I still hold that there has been some progress. The  downward spiral of avoidance and evasion is being reversed. Evasion and avoidance is still continuing on an industrial scale in the globalised economy which assists such actions, but things are changing, at last. Tax paid by multinationals and the global rich – the 1%ers – is very low, but the public is less tolerant of it.