HIGH earners should be forced to pay as much as 15pc of their income into a €3bn fund to finance new businesses and kick-start the economy, Siptu boss Jack O'Connor said at the weekend.
The call to action was made by Mr O'Connor at the Jim Connell festival in Crossakiel, Co Meath, and came the day after the Government halved its 2011 growth forecast to just 0.75pc.
Under the plan, everyone earning more than €100,000 would pay a levy of between 5pc and 15pc, which would be channelled into a Strategic Investment Bank (SIB).
The higher earners would own stakes in SIB and would be paid dividends, so the levy would be consistent with the Government's promise not to increase taxes, Mr O'Connor said.
The €1bn raised from the high earners every year would be topped up with €2bn from the National Pension Reserve Fund, leaving €3bn to be invested into the real economy.
Mr O'Connor said the fund would increase investment into the economy by 16pc in 2011 alone, even if there was no money raised through additional borrowing or private investment.
"It is tactically and strategically wrong for the left to assert that we do not have options within the, admittedly restrictive, Troika Agreement with the IMF, ECB and EU," Mr O'Connor said. "The left must seize the initiative; suspend consideration of default and concentrate on the only question that matters -- how to grow the economy, providing jobs and hope for our people."
Under the plan, those earning €100,000 to €125,000 would pay a levy of 5pc, those earning between €125,000 and €200,000 would pay 8pc, and those in the €200,000 to €1m bracket would pay 12pc.
The highest 15pc rate is reserved for those earning more than €1m a year -- a group that Siptu says includes less than 800 people.