Republican News · Thursday 02 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Reject financial services sector blackmail

Speaking on the Finance Bill in Leinster House last week, Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin called on the government to reject what he described as `blackmail' by the Financial Services Industry Association. He said that the FSIA was ``cracking the whip'' at the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach and threatening that if the Revenue Commissioners continue to pursue DIRT tax then major companies would pull out of the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin.

The threat by the FSIA was made as the Dáil began debating the Bill, which implements Budget 2000. ``This is outrageous blackmail by an arrogant corporate sector which has been given the most favoured treatment by this and previous governments. The ordinary worker who has tax taken from his or her weekly pay packet has no choice. But these multinational profiteers spend huge sums in avoiding and evading tax, as well as benefiting from massive tax breaks'' said Ó Caoláin.

He told the Dáil that regardless of the changes forced on the Minister, the Bill implements a Budget that was disgracefully biased in favour of the better off:

``This skewed Finance Bill provides for the reduction of the top rate of tax from 46% to 44%, a costly measure for which there was neither need nor demand. The Bill reduces the standard rate of tax from 24% to 22% but the low paid still remain in the tax net.

``As part of the government's patch-up job on the 1 December Budget after the cuts and bruises it sustained, we have the PRSI and health levy exemptions for the lower paid. Instead of taking from those who can most afford and giving to those most in need, this measure simply dips into the Social Insurance fund which belongs to all workers in an attempt to make some amends for the gross inequities in the 1 December budget.

``One of the most glaring omissions in the Budget was its failure to effectively address the housing crisis. There are no imaginative tax measures in this Bill to free up housing, such as the Capital Gains Tax increases proposed by Sinn Féin to curb property speculation, or the abolition of stamp duty for houses worth under 150,000. The gaps in this Finance Bill, and the deeply flawed measures on housing land in the Planning and Development Bill, again highlight the lack of a comprehensive housing strategy on the part of this government.''

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