THE head of IDA Ireland has denied claims by US senators that computer giant Apple had a special tax deal in Ireland.
Chief executive Barry O'Leary told the Dail's Public Accounts Committee he would not disclose Apple's tax set-up here, as the agency does not divulge an individual company's tax arrangements.
"There was no sweetheart deal for Apple. It was a comment that shouldn't have been made and it was retracted," said Mr O'Leary.
Mr O'Leary also rejected criticism of Ireland's 12.5pc corporate tax rate, saying foreign companies paid €2.7bn in taxes here and our effective tax rate was not out of line with competing nations.
"The average salary of an employee at a multinational is €43,000, compared with €36,000 for an Irish-owned company. On top of that, multinationals pay an average of €19,000 per employee in corporate tax," he said.
Answering questions from Independent TD Shane Ross, Mr O'Leary said the effective tax rate, when various credits and incentives are taken into account, was probably 8.2pc.
In comparison, France, which has a headline corporate tax rate of 33pc, has an actual effective tax rate closer to 9pc.
He said the French "do special deals" to achieve this, such as write-offs and huge state subsidisation, which was not the case here.
Mr O'Leary said the so-called "double Irish" controversy, where multinationals brought down their tax liabilities by using inter-company transfers to move cash from higher-tax countries to lower-tax ones, had not affected our standing internationally.
The comments came after the European Commission launched an investigation into alleged "sweetheart" tax deals being given to multinationals by some countries.
Meanwhile, Mr O'Leary said the IDA had "no role" in trying to bring down drug prices.
Some 22,000 people work in IDA-backed pharmaceutical companies and Fianna Fail TD Sean Fleming asked Mr O'Leary if there was anything the agency could do to get prices reduced.
The TD asked if there could be "a bit of linkage" between the IDA and the HSE on the issue.
However, Mr O'Leary replied: "I really don't think that's a role for the IDA."