Oxfam report on ‘tax haven’ Ireland slated by Michael Noonan

Minister for Finance critical of flawed NGO analysis: ‘Nobody will take them seriously’

The Oxfam report labelled Ireland one of the worst tax havens in the world.

The Oxfam report labelled Ireland one of the worst tax havens in the world.

by Sarah Bardon

A report issued by Oxfam that claimed Ireland was a tax haven, has been criticised by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan

He said no reputational damage had been done because their remarks are “so wide from what the actual factual position is. Nobody will take them seriously.”

The report labelled Ireland one of the worst tax havens in the world, on a par with countries like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands when it comes to helping big business dodge billions of euro in tax annually.

In a damning analysis by development agency Oxfam, Ireland was placed sixth in a list of 15 countries that facilitated extensive corporate tax avoidance through profit-shifting, aggressive tax planning structures and so-called sweetheart deals.

Source: Irish Times Dec 12 2016

Oxfam's Report, December 12 2016,  'World’s worst corporate tax havens exposed'

Can be read here


'No refund for water billpayers' - Coveney says it would set ‘dangerous precedent’

Foreward Buncrana Together

They're all at it, that's politics for you.  The 'expert' Domestic Water Commission report has got the politicians in a tizzy.

Mr Coveney is scared to set a dangerous precedent and has put his foot in it by rushing  responses to the report. He is now threatening haul Brendan O'Mahony, one of the 'expert' commissioners before the an Oireachtas committee on water for a grilling.

Mr Noonan wants to get rid of all the dead cats or the one cat that has gotten out of the bag, him forcing people to pay for his extravagant pipe dream.   

Mr Barry Cowan wants to toss a coin, heads - we give money  back,  tails - jail all those bad people who did not pay for the hoax.  

Then Mr Penrose whose party was jointly responsible for the fiasco is threatening to use his legal expertise, him being a barrister and all.  That's the fighting spirit for you.

Catherine Byrne last night was said to be feeling some type of remorse but apparently not for her party browbeating elderly people into paying or for the lies and threats by her party colleagues.   

Mr Alan Farrel is worried that his party will loose votes if they do not refund the ill-gotten gains. That's empathy for you.

And after all that Mr Coveney  wants to study the Domestic Water Commission report a bit more.

Irish Independent, Dec 1, 2016

'No refund for water billpayers' - Coveney says it would set ‘dangerous precedent’

Backlash in FG as Noonan calls charges a 'dead cat'

by Kevin Doyle and Niall O'Connor

Under pressure: Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo:Tom Burke

Under pressure: Housing Minister Simon Coveney. Photo:Tom Burke

 Housing Minister Simon Coveney is coming under massive pressure to refund almost one million householders who paid water charges despite warning it would set "a dangerous precedent".

Mr Coveney wants a payment plan put in place for hundreds of thousands of people who owe money to Irish Water. 

'Dead Cat': Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Photo:Tom Burke

'Dead Cat': Finance Minister Michael Noonan. Photo:Tom Burke

"A lot of people who paid water charges aren't expecting refunds. What they want is fairness and equity to ensure that if they pay what they owe, others do the same," Mr Coveney told the Irish Independent.

He said he "won't stand over a situation where people who paid are made a fool of because they did the right thing".

However, a Fine Gael party meeting was last night dominated by the issue, with TDs expressing fears that they would never be forgiven if refunds were not issued.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the party has lost votes over water and it was time to "get this dead cat off the field".

He said that the €120m a year required to pay for water charges is "not significant" given that the State's budget is €58bn.

The split came as Fianna Fáil's Barry Cowen described Mr Coveney's reaction to the Expert Commission on Water's report as "rushed" and "a bit irrational".

His party now wants an assessment carried out to see if it would cost more to issue refunds - which would average €165 per household - or to pursue those who haven't paid.

Some 989,000 households did pay some or all of the money owed, with the utility collecting a total of €162.5m.

This means more than 500,000 people ignored all five bills received from Irish Water before charges were suspended in May.

The Irish Independent has learned that no effort has been made to encourage or force these people to settle their debts since the formation of the Government.

"Irish Water has not communicated directly with customers regarding their bills since the suspension of domestic charging," a spokesperson confirmed.

Labour Party TD Willie Penrose is set to table legislation that if passed by the Oireachtas would force Irish Water to give billpayers their money back.

Failing that, Mr Penrose, who is a barrister, is prepared to put together a legal team that would lead a class action in the courts.

"It's important that a situation is not created where compliant taxpayers are left feeling mugged," he said.

Mr Coveney said the way forward would have to be decided by the Oireachtas Committee which would study the Expert Commission report.

"If you have a charge or a tax that is national policy and the law then I think it's a very dangerous precedent to simply set that aside because it's an awkward political issue.

"People who didn't pay should be asked to pay. We need to design a system that can allow them to do that over time and that doesn't put anybody under financial pressure," he said.

But at last night's meeting junior minister Catherine Byrne was said to have become emotional as she demanded that refunds be paid.

Dublin Fingal TD Alan Farrell warned the party would lose votes if it did not issue refunds.

Meanwhile, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are also assessing how to react to a section of the report which states that people in group water schemes and with private wells need to be compensated.

"Equity with the proposed arrangements for consumers on public supplies must be maintained for those who are not served by public water supplies," it stated.

Mr Coveney suggested that Brendan O'Mahony, who is chair of the National Federation of Group Water Schemes and was on the Expert Commission, should be invited to appear before the special Oireachtas committee on water.

"Many people in rural Ireland have always paid for water and the infrastructure they might need. Let's see what the committee come up with on that," he said. 

Source: Irish Independent 

National Assets Management Agency to recover only €34.1bn on developers debts of €74bn it acquired

Last Thursday  Michael Noonan, Finance Minister, replied to a question in the Dail from Paul Murphy, AAA/PBP, about the final amount which the National Assets Management Agency is expected to recover on its debts relative to the €74 billion of loans it acquired and the amount recovered to date by year. 

 Mr Noonan replied that  "NAMA originally paid €31.8 billion to acquire a €74 billion loan book, comprising of 779 debtor connections. I am advised that, as at 31 March 2016, 442 debtor connections with a par debt of €18.5 billion had exited NAMA. This comprises debtor connections that reached a final agreement with NAMA and debtor connections whose loans were sold. 44 debtor connections have repaid their par debt in full. I am further advised that the 442 debtor connections have repaid €9.6 billion to the Agency.

Mr Paul Murphy  explained Mr Noonan's reply in his facebook page

Paul Murphy AAA/PBP

Paul Murphy AAA/PBP

"The scale of the write-off illustrated by these figures is immense. The fact that of 442 debtors exiting NAMA, only 44 debtors have paid their debts in full proves the fact that NAMA has been used as a life support machine for developers and an agency for bailing them out.

With a collective 398 debtors having had €8.9 billion in write off, that means an average write-off of over €24 million for each developer, at a time when ordinary mortgage holders and tenants of repossessed buy-to-lets are being made homeless. To cap it off, the state isn’t even ending up owning these debtors’ properties but has been selling them on to vulture funds whose business model is to make a 30% profit in three years – another potential loss to the taxpayer in effect.

The answers also state that NAMA expects to make a €2bn ‘surplus’ relative to the €31.8bn it paid for the loans with a par value of €74.1bn. In other words, by the time it winds up it will have written off €40bn in debt - €8.9bn has been written off so far, leaving €31bn to go. At the time NAMA was set up, then Finance Ministser Brian Lenihan promised that the developers would be pursued for every penny they owed. Now we’re supposed to swallow a €40bn loss as a ‘surplus’ or profit.

Instead of being this life-support machine for developers, NAMA should be democratised and transformed into an agency to deliver social and affordable housing, using, for example, the over 1,100 hectares of residential land NAMA controls in Dublin alone – enough for up to 110,000 homes."

see Oireachtas debate: Thursday April 14, answers 72-75

Mick Wallace, Ind,  speaking in the Dail on April 14, on Housing Crisis, NAMA and Vulture Funds.