O’Dea fears call for €5 social welfare increase will not be fully met in Budget 2018

Seen & Heard: Amazon on Irish IT policy failures, Uber’s grant aid and the national broadband strategy

Fianna Fáil social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea  feels his demand for a €5 rise in the State pension and disability and carers allowance will not be fully met.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Fianna Fáil social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea feels his demand for a €5 rise in the State pension and disability and carers allowance will not be fully met. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Fianna Fáil social protection spokesman Willie O’Dea has intervened in budget negotiations to demand social welfare increases. The Sunday Independent reports that O’Dea feels his demand for a €5 rise in the State pension and disability and carers allowance will not be fully met.

The paper also reports that a draft report by the Budget Oversight Committee says the Government can increase its so-called fiscal space in the budget by changing its calculations to take account of the 2015 GDP growth rate of 26 per cent instead of using a growth rate of 5.5 per cent for that year. However, speaking on RTE’s Marion Finucane show, the chairman of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council Séamus Coffey dismissed the suggestion, saying that while the growth rate is correct, tax revenues did not rise by anything like that amount during 2015. Meanwhile, the Sunday Business Post reports the Taoiseach has warned that high income taxes could hinder attempts to lure post-Brexit jobs from London.

Amazon, the internet retail giant, has said its plan to create 4,000 new jobs in Ireland is being threatened by yawning gaps in state policy on planning, skills and energy supply. The Sunday Business Post and the Sunday Times report on meetings between government officials and the tech giant, which also reference delays it has encountered in securing planning permission for a data center on a 64-acre site in Mulhuddart, Dublin. Amazon currently employs 2,500 people in Ireland.

In a blow to attempts to lure the European Medicines Agency from London to Dublin after Brexit, a staff survey has found that 45 per cent don’t want to relocate to Ireland. The Sunday Times reports that Dublin was ranked seventh on the list of favoured locations by staff, with Amsterdam, Barcelona and Vienna topping the list. EU leaders are due to decide in November to which of 19 different cities that have applied to house the agency – including Dublin – it should relocate.

Uber is expected to meet with executives from the IDA soon as part of the fallout fro the proposed ban on the ride hailing app service in London. The Sunday Business Post reports that the firm received €2.08 million in grant aid from the IDA in February as part of its plan to set up its centre of excellence in Limerick. The centre currently employs 350 people and supports its business across Europe. The world’s most valuable start-up was eligible for the grant as the investment was destined for the border, midlands and west regions.

Financial services firms have complained about what they claim are excessive regulatory charges they face from the Central Bank of Ireland. The Sunday Times reports the financial providers have accused the central bank of opaque accounting, failing to control generous pension entitlement and damaging Dublin’s competitiveness as a financial centre. The paper says the row has persuaded the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to delay plans to make financial firms pay the entire costs of regulation by the bank. Instead they will pay 65 per cent of the regulator’s costs this year, up from 50 per cent previously.

In the ongoing debacle over the roll out of the Government’s national broadband contract, Eir and Enet are likely to share the final deal to deliver high-speed broadband to 500,000 rural homes, according to the Sunday Business Post. The withdrawal of Siro, the joint venture between the ESB and Vodafone, has cleared the way for the two remaining bidders to share the contract between them.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May launched a concerted push for the youth vote featuring a university tuition fee freeze and a £10 billion boost for first time buyers, as the Conservative party conference got underway. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, she said that the sources of funding for the new policies would be set out at Mr Hammond’s Budget on November 22th.

Investors in a fund with majority stakes in Valeo Foods and the Mater Private Hospital are to share in a €200 million payday. US privately equity firm HabourVest Partners is buying out a number of shareholders in the fund known as CapVest Fund II, the Sunday Independent reports.