Saturday 16 December 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

HERE are the main business stories from this morning's papers:

Irish Independent:

***The battle over Dáil privilege is set to return to court as senior ministers entered the debate.

Last night Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Joan Burton both defended the right of TDs to raise issues in the Dail free from legal restrictions. Independent TD Catherine Murphy’s comments about loans to businessman Denis O’Brien from IBRC are at the centre of the unprecedented legal-political wrangle.

Former IBRC chairman Alan Dukes has dismissed some of the allegations made by Ms Murphy and said he believed they were inaccurate.

***The Irish consumer economy turned a corner in 2014 after five years of recession, and is now recovering steadily, a new report reveals today.

More people expect their household finances to improve in the coming year than deteriorate, a change crucial in attitudes, apparent for the first time since the downturn.

Consumer spending also contributed to the growth of the wider economy in 2014 for the first time since the crash in 2008.  

***The state’s public spending watchdog warned the Department of Public Expenditure last year that it was so badly resourced, it could progress less than a tenth of the reporting topics it had identified, the Irish Independent has learned.

In a submission to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office said its staff numbers had fallen by 14pc since 2008, with the number assigned to reporting work falling by more than 40pc.

The C&AG’s office gives opinions on the financial accounts of state bodies, but also reports on matters relating to value for money and the administration of public funds.

Irish Times:

***The Mount Juliet hotel and golf complex in Kilkenny is to get a €10m upgrade as Irish investment group Tetrarch Capital is to rebrand the facility, according to the Irish Times.

The spend by the company includes a €1.1m investment in new golf equipment while the firm is also increasing the number of bedrooms and increasing the scale of the hospitality facilities at the hotel.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Tetrarch chief executive said: “We view our investment as  a generational one and we have very clear long term ambitions for Mount Juliet.”

***An Irish address was the most used in 2012 to file potentially fraudulent tax return applications submitted to the Internal Revenue Service, according to a report by the US treasury.

The Irish Times reports that the address in Kilkenny was used for 580 returns in 2012 which led to almost $220,000 worth of “refunds” being issued. Further details of the address were not provided in the study.

The report by the IRS identified almost 800,000 undetected potentially fraudulent tax returns that led to “refunds” of more than $2.1bn issued in 2012.

***IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and ECB president Mario Draghi flew to Brussels last night, with talks on breaking the impasse over Greece’s financial lifeline taking on a new urgency as the nation faces a debt repayment at the end of this week

An international official said creditor institutions were working on a common proposal that would be presented to Greece as a way of breaking the deadlock in the coming days.

Athens  faces a €300m repayment to the IMF on Friday, one of four payments worth €1.6bn it is expected to make to the Washington-based fund this month.

Irish Examiner:

***Over three quarters of hotel bosses expect an increase in business in the coming year while tourism companies’ sentiment is at its highest level since the recession, the Irish Examiner reports.

According to Failte Ireland’s barometer 60pc of serviced  accommodation providers are reporting an increase in business  so far this year compared to the same period in 2014 with this number rising to two thirds among hoteliers.

The barometer is a survey of businesses  that looks to gauge the performance of the tourism sector. It also found that nearly seven out of ten accommodation providers said that they expected both domestic and overseas markets to generate growth in the coming season.

***Highly skilled  professional received tax breaks worth almost €2m in just under one year in a scheme devised to attract top level talent to Ireland.

The special assignee relief scheme was introduced in 2012 in an effort to encourage skilled  workers to relocate to Ireland. Although just 11 individuals did so that year, 121 opted to do so in 2013.

According to new figures published by the Department of Finance, the cost of the scheme in foregone tax revenue was €127,000 in 2012 and increased to €1.895m in 2013.

***Christoph Mueller, the newly appointed chief executive of embattled Malaysia Airlines and former CEO of Aer Lingus, said yesterday the carrier is “technically bankrupt”, underlining the case to cut a third of its workforce, scrap some international routes and review its long-haul fleet.

The announcement follows the airline’s twin air disasters last year that ultimately led to its nationalisation. Mr Mueller, the former head of Aer Lingus, took up his post in May.

“We are technically bankrupt ... the decline of performance started long before the tragic events of 2014,” said Mr Mueller.

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