Ireland’s emergence from economic meltdown provides a model for other nations, the Taoiseach has told the World Economic Forum.
Enda Kenny also defended Ireland’s tax arrangements with multinational companies, telling the audience past claims that it was a tax haven for big businesses were without foundation.
Mr Kenny took part in a panel discussion titled ‘How to Reboot the Global Economy’ on the second day of the forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Asked about Ireland’s journey from financial crash to being the EU’s fastest growing economy, the Taoiseach said: “We have set a model here of how government can actually deal with a very catastrophic position and yet, in a relatively short time, come through that.
Mr Kenny took part in the event alongside Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz, Brazil’s finance minister Nelson Henrique Barbosa-Filho, and Zhang Xin, the chief executive of SOHO China Limited.
In terms of attracting foreign direct investment, Mr Kenny said Ireland’s relatively low 12.5% corporation tax rate was not as important as the country’s talent pool.
When the discussion turned to tax avoidance practices used by some multinational companies, Mr Kenny noted past allegations made in the US that Ireland had been a tax haven.
He described the claims as “completely false, baseless and untrue”.
The Taoiseach insisted there had been “no special deals” with any companies.
“From our point of view we defend 100% the authenticity of the way we do business with international companies,” he said.
Professor Stiglitz is a critic of austerity policies implemented by some eurozone countries.
At one point he was asked from the audience if his theory was undermined by the growth levels Ireland was recording.
“I wouldn’t call it a victory yet, you’ve turned the corner, which is great, and I have got to commend you for that,” he replied.
“Among the countries that had austerity, you did the best.”
In response, Mr Kenny said: “We are not declaring any victory here, we’re reporting progress and we are reporting the management of that progress for the future, in the people’s interests.”
Elsewhere at the Davos summit, British prime minister David Cameron called on business to speak out in favour of Britain staying in a reformed European Union, but warned those wanting a quick fix that he would settle only for the “right deal”.
Cameron met business leaders in Davos after being boosted by pledges from several banks to fund a campaign to keep Britain inside the European Union and by senior European leaders who said a Brexit would be a “tragedy” and “disaster”.
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