SF plans higher taxes for the rich and businesses

 

Higher tax, should be introduced as part of a fundamental reform of the taxation system, Sinn Féin has proposed.

Launching its general election manifesto, the party argued that Corporation Tax should remain fixed at its current 16 per cent level, employers' PRSI contributions should go back to 12 per cent.

The return to a 40 per cent rate for Capital Gains Tax would raise €1,280 million annually, while leaving Corporation Tax as it is would generate €347 million. Returning employers' PRSI rates to last year's levels would bring in €392 million.

Insisting that Fianna Fáil/Pro- gressive Democrat tax changes have benefited the rich, the party's manifesto declares: "We do not accept the mantra that universal tax cuts lead inevitably to a richer economy and a fairer society." Quoting Combat Poverty Agency figures, Sinn Féin said 25 per cent of the value of Budget "tax giveaways" over the last five years went to the richest 10 per cent, while the poorest 5 per cent received just 10 per cent.

The outgoing Cavan/Monaghan TD, Mr Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said: "We start from the point that all our people have basic social and economic rights. They are citizens in a democracy, not merely consumers in an economy or units in a labour force."

Rejecting charges that the party's proposals would cripple the economy, Mr Ó Caoláin said the economy was "vibrant": "We believe that there is sufficient potential within the existing system to accommodate our changes."

Minimum wage workers should be removed from the tax net at a cost of €426 million annually, said the manifesto, which was produced 10 days behind those of the other parties. Calling for a fundamental review of the tax system to be completed within 12 months, the Sinn Féin president, Mr Gerry Adams, said all existing tax loopholes should be closed immediately.

The votes of Sinn Féin TDs, if elected, will be cast in favour of policies that mirror its manifesto ambitions, he said. "Bertie Ahern and no-one else should take for granted the support of Sinn Féin TDs."

On health, Sinn Féin proposes major funding increases, an end to the two-tier system over 10 years, free GP care and the extension of the medical card to all those on the minimum wage and under-18s in full-time education.

Hospital consultants should work solely for the public health system "for the first years" of their contracts, while nurses and junior doctors working in the greater Dublin area should receive extra salaries. "Consultants are being paid from the public purse for treating public patients while at the same time they profit from the thriving private health business," said the detailed manifesto.

"They are allowed to work unlimited private hours in public hospitals, using public medical resources and public offices funded by the taxpayer for their business for personal private profit." Calling for the consultants to be "taken on", the party said: "Their skills can be bought and public waiting lists bypassed at the right price. No system built on that basis can be either free or efficient."

Rejecting arguments that SF's ambitions were unrealistic, Mr Adams said all parties should first agree that they wish to create a one-tier health system and then use the tax system "to bring it about" over 10 years.

Quoting European Union statistics, Mr Adams said the over-65s have the worst life expectancy in Europe:

"We have had 10 years of boom, and we are going to die earlier," he said. Capital Gains Tax on the sale of second, and more houses should rise immediately to 40 per cent, and should rise again within two years to 60 per cent to force "speculative owners of multiple dwellings" to sell.

In future, every citizen should have a constitutional right to housing. Local authorities should be given two years, and bigger budgets to house 70 per cent of those currently on waiting lists.