Higher civil servants seek rise in tax

Fri, Oct 19, 2012, 01:00

THE GOVERNMENT should introduce across-the-board tax increases rather than look at cutting pay and increments of senior staff in the public service, the union representing higher civil servants is to propose.

In an address to be made to the union’s executive committee today, general secretary of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants Dave Thomas will argue it is time the Government bit the bullet on tax increases.

He will say the recent calls to cut the pay and entitlements of senior public servants are “unfair, ill-thought through and utterly ignorant of the relatively small amount of revenue that this would save the exchequer”.

He will say “the recent focus on the future of the Croke Park agreement disguised the fact that the real elephant in the room for the Government is the introduction of across-the-board income tax increases that are the only effective means of generating significant revenue for the State”.

He will add it is “time for an honest discussion on tax increases given the scale of Government borrowing will continue to range between €8 and €12 billion over the next two years. This means that additional savings of €4 billion will have to be made in 2014.”

He will say the association continues to support the Croke Park agreement and welcomes moves to quicken the pace of reforms.

“The call from groups of TDs, supported by certain commentators, to cut payments to senior civil servants is based on an anti-public sector bias rather than any true desire to achieve savings.

“Not only that: any such measure would automatically cause unnecessary tension with public service unions and could jeopardise the industrial harmony that has existed since the Croke Park agreement was signed.

“Public servants account for 17 per cent of the workforce. Instead of piecemeal savings ... targeted at a relatively small segment of workers, the time has come for the Government to bite the bullet and consider fairer measures ...”

He will say “given the extent of cuts made as part of recent austerity budgets, the fairest way to generate the additional revenue necessary to reduce the deficit further is to raise more income from the higher-paid in both the public and private sectors.

“Recent studies have shown that Ireland’s average income tax rates remain exceptionally low by international standards and it is now time for a mature discussion on income tax.”

Mr Thomas will argue that through a modest increase in taxes the Government would be able to generate revenue while maintaining Ireland’s status as a relatively low-tax economy and, at the same time, maintain the process of industrial peace and reform through the Croke Park agreement.