Noonan defends sale valuation of Bord Gáis Energy
American chamber president warns against further unilateral tax changes
Peter Keegan, president of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland. On income taxes, he said “employees and employers simply cannot afford to pay any more”. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times
The collapse of the Bord Gáis Energy sale will not leave a funding gap in the Government’s job stimulus package, the Minister for Finance has said.
Before the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland Thanksgiving lunch yesterday, Michael Noonan said the Government had not over-valued Bord Gáis Energy despite a lack of favourable bids. While the sale of the State-owned enterprise had attracted significant interest, none of the bids was of acceptable value.
“We are in no rush to sell,” he said. “Expenditure was well below budget and taxes are up so we can get the €110 million from that.
Under the terms of Ireland’s €85 billion rescue package, it agreed to tax rises, structural reforms and the sale of State assets. Half the money raised from State assets would go towards paying national debt, while the remainder would be put towards job stimulus programmes.
Mr Noonan defended the Government’s decision to remove the “stateless company” tax loophole, saying the loophole did not benefit Ireland in any way and caused “heavy reputational damage at US congress hearings”.
US Chamber of Commerce Ireland president Peter Keegan implored the Government not to make any more unilateral tax changes, saying investors crave certainty.
“Given current global events, we believe it would be wise for Ireland to only make changes in relation to global tax matters, in the context of international changes rather than any unilateral action on Ireland’s part,” he said.
Mr Noonan confirmed that there would be no further unilateral action, but said Ireland would fall in line with any international tax reforms.
Mr Keegan told the event there were still challenges in the domestic economy, “not least the continuing deficit in the public finances and the extremely high level of public debt”. He said income taxes had reached saturation point, adding that “employees and employers simply cannot afford to pay any more”.