THE recent Finance Act imposed the highest marginal tax rate on Ireland's self- employed and small companies, and these are the people who must be supported if the economy is to grow again, the president of the Irish Taxation Institute, Andrew Cullen, told its annual dinner last night.
"The marginal rate of tax for self-employed individuals is 3pc higher than an employee on an equivalent salary. Tax policies must encourage, not punish, entrepreneurship," Mr Cullen said.
Chief Executive of Enterprise Ireland Frank Ryan said the country now has a greater global reach, with more Irish companies exporting than at any time in the history of the State.
He told the dinner that Ireland must make more use of its diaspora -- and create a new one.
"The Irish are in key positions of influence in business and government abroad.
"Some fared less well and they are no less important, no less Irish, no less part of our family.
"Now Ireland must develop an additional diaspora through the overseas students who have been educated here.
"These students are the future leaders, entrepreneurs and decision- makers in their own countries," Mr Ryan said.
Mr Cullen challenged the remarks of German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ireland's low corporate tax is in some way linked to the property crisis.
"It only serves to bring additional pressures on Ireland at a time when we need certainty and confidence in order to keep inward investment and encourage growth," he said.
"The issue of the corporate tax rates and a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base will be under the spotlight yet again next month as EU leaders prepare for two major EU summits.
"It is essential that the new Government is to the fore in defending the very foundation stone of our economic strategy at these summits and that it moves to bring certainty to the issue for Ireland.
"We must never forget that any wavering on Irish tax policy and tax rules can quickly undermine critical investment into Ireland," Mr Cullen added.