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‘Their number one concern’ – international investors watching corporation tax developments ‘very closely’, says NTMA chief

Devil will be in the detail,’ agency chief tells TDs and senators amid indications that 12.5pc tax rate will be increased


National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) chief executive Conor O'Kelly. Photo: Frank McGrath

National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) chief executive Conor O'Kelly. Photo: Frank McGrath

National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) chief executive Conor O'Kelly. Photo: Frank McGrath

International investors are watching corporation tax developments in Ireland “very closely” and it is “their number one concern at the current time,” the Dáil Public Accounts Committee has been told.

Conor O’Kelly, the chief executive of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), said: “What we've tried to do is is tell policymakers what we're hearing from investors.”

Any threatened change to corporation tax and uncertainty around Ireland’s “fundamental industrial model” of attracting multinational corporations is understandably a concern of theirs, he said.

“It is their number one concern at the current time. They're watching developments, very, very, very closely,” Mr O’Kelly told PAC members.

He said Ireland had this “dual-engine economy,” involving the domestic economy and major overseas investors.

“What really matters is not what I think, but what is thought by our investors who are spending the money,” he said. “What do they think the risks are to Ireland, and how are they viewing those risks?”

Asked by Brian Stanley, Sinn Féin chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, about potentially large consequences in terms of Revenue intake if there was a 15pc floor, Mr O’Kelly said it was hard to tell.

“I think first of all it's too early to say,” he said. “It is a very complex business and there's an awful lot that we don't know yet about how this could turn out.

“We know that the Department (of Finance) has put put in provision that they think the impact will be €2billion per annum in the potential long-term impact.”

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Mr O’Kelly added: “I think that's a reasonably prudent forecast to take – but it's way too early to say this. The devil is in the detail.”

There is so much negotiation left to be done internationally “that we we don't don't know,” he said. “But I think at the same time Ireland is a great place to do business.”

He added: “We know multinationals are here not just for tax reasons.”

He gave the example of recent dealings with Stripe, the electronic payments company run by the Limerick-born Collison brothers.

“They are making a huge commitment to Ireland in terms of jobs and their second headquarters,” Mr O’Kelly said. “But taxes never come up in any of the conversations we've had with them about Ireland as a jurisdiction or somewhere where they want to do more business.

“So I don't think I'd overstate the ultimate impact of this, if it goes along the kind of tram lines that we're talking about now,” he said.

Mr Stanley commented: “So any ‘extra two and a half per cent taxes’ does not have them terrified, I think is what you're saying.”

He added: “I know you're talking to the people who will be impacted by this and who have a special interest in it. So you're in the know on this, maybe more than a lot of us.”

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