Business Irish

Friday 22 August 2014

PUNT: Let's spare Europe our hubris

Published 22/02/2013 | 04:00

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So Michael Noonan thinks Ireland is Europe's "A" student; that will surely be news to the likes of Germany and Finland, who have managed to keep their financial houses in order despite the global economic meltdown.

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The comments were made at a high-profile event in London, where the minister was hosted by Bloomberg, the global financial newswire.

It is true that huge sacrifices are being made by the Irish population, and the Irish economy is gradually clawing its way back to competitiveness.

But please, minister, can we spare ourselves and our fellow Europeans the hubris about being the best in the class, at least until the troika have packed up and left town, hopefully in 11 months' time. That troika exit looks increasingly likely to happen on time, but we are not there yet.

So the last thing we need right now are Irish ministers repeating the mistakes of their Fianna Fail predecessors by lecturing baffled Europeans about the best ways to run, or – in this case – restructure an economy.

Mr Noonan is long enough in the tooth to know the value of self-praise.

Interesting insights from Feehily

IT seems that the IMF was a little perplexed that the Revenue Commissioners was not involved with the collection of the household charge.

Local authorities were charged with the collection of the €100 levy, and Revenue chair Josephine Feehily told the Dail's Public Accounts Committee that she had been frequently asked why they were not involved.

"I was asked this by many business people, by tax practitioners and indeed abroad, and by the IMF – why aren't you doing this?" she said.

The almost throw-away remark by Ms Feehily was an interesting one in that it gives some insight into the thinking of our international paymasters.

Speaking of Ms Feehily, The Punt thought it might discard its normally caustic manner to offer a compliment.

The chair of the Revenue Commissioners spoke for the best part of three hours yesterday at the committee, where the discussion was largely focused on the controversial property tax.

Whether you agree with the notion of a property tax or not, Ms Feehily's contribution was highly impressive.

She was well informed and provided detailed answers in the face of a plethora of questions.

Some would say the public should expect nothing less. Unfortunately, we don't always get it.

Arab woes no 'little' events

THE Arab World has the potential for huge job growth in the coming decades if Irish exporters can get their act together.

That was the claim of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce yesterday. The potential for thousands of jobs is well and good, but there is the issue of security at the moment.

The region is in flux, with unrest gripping the likes of Egypt, Tunisia and of course Syria and Libya, among others.

It was jarring then to hear chamber president Joe Geoghegan describe these incidents that have seen the deaths of thousands of people and thrown the entire region into flux as "little political events".

"We would always say you have to be careful and take the best advice, but companies that are dealing with these countries where they go through little political events like that are wise enough and experienced enough to know how to negotiate this," he said.

"History tells us it should not have any impact on major economic factors like demography and so on," Mr Geoghegan added.

That may be so but The Punt couldn't help but feel it was sitting in the Carlton Club in Victorian London discussing the finer points of the Indian Mutiny or something similar.

This isn't the mid 19th century though, and the events have been broadcast live into our living rooms.

We're no PR experts, but it's probably best to accept their seriousness when trying to sell the region as a business destination.

Irish Independent

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