'Little study' of €11bn lost through tax breaks
TAX breaks cost €11bn a year in lost revenue but there has been very little study of the impact of the 131 different schemes, the Kenmare workshop was told.
"Reforms of the current system offer the possibility to make very significant contributions to the Exchequer in the coming months and years," Trinity College Dublin economists Mary Walsh and Michael Collins said.
They said an annual property tax is a more stable option for the taxation of residential property than the introduction of capital gain tax on house sales, as has been suggested -- "particularly given the absence of any recognition for inflation/ deflation in the capital gains tax system".
Local government will have to make greater savings than those outlined in the recent Review Group if the burden on business ratepayers is not to increase, Owen Keegan, county manager of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, said.
Speaking in a personal capacity, Mr Keegan said it was a pity the Review Group did not look more closely at the overall management of the public sector and the failure of previous reform programmes.
A paper by Pat McLoughlin noted that there had been a €300m cut in local government spending over the past two years, but that a further €500m was proposed over the medium term.
In a session on regulation, Paul Gorecki of the ESRI told the conference that the Government's proposals on the role of regulators risked compromising their independence as well as blurring their responsibilities.
The failure of the merged Central Bank and Financial Services Authority was an example, he said. "More intervention by ministers is likely to raise the spectre of increased uncertainty, occasioned by the conflicting pressures on the minister in his or her role."
Denis Cagney of the Commission for Energy Regulation said financial regulation was more complex than that for energy because of the conflicting interest involved. He said the difference between principle-based and ruled-based regulation had been exaggerated.
"Vigilance does not necessarily mean micro regulation. What matters is enforcement," he said.