Thursday 27 October 2016

'Old politics' has no answers to lack of competitiveness

Published 29/09/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: PA
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: PA

In the era of 'New Politics', why bother thinking anew?

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That thought must be running through the head of Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor.

The minister proposed a special tax deal to attract highly skilled emigrant workers to return to Ireland.

The 30pc tax rate would apply for a limited period to returning workers with skills like medicine, finance and IT, where there is a shortage of the qualified talent required.

Yes, not desirable, but still a point for discussion.

Those supposed proponents of so-called 'New Politics', Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin, didn't take long to shoot it down. Martin called the idea "bananas" and Kenny said it would be "unfair".

And what proposals do this pair of old-school politicians have to attract the skilled workers our economy needs, be they returning emigrants or foreign migrants?

Our taxation system ensures that moving to Ireland is unattractive to workers who have the option of working elsewhere, which affects the competitiveness of the country.

The latest World Economic Forum (WEF) global competitiveness ranking sees Ireland ranked 23rd out of 138 states - only the eighth most competitive country in the Eurozone and 16 places behind our key rival, the UK.

Sure, the emigrant tax break was never going to happen but it was still worthy of consideration and provided the opportunity for wider debate on enhancing our economy.

Nonetheless, we retain our status as the best small country in the world to kill off any fresh thinking.

Irish Independent

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