Water and property tax still on the table for budget

THE Cabinet remain determined to bring in water and property taxes to help plug the hole in the country’s budget deficit.

Community minister Pat Carey said technology should be in place within 18 months to allow for full water metering. And he said site values would be explored to see how feasible a property tax would be.

Mr Carey said every aspect of spending would have to be examined as the Government looked for the additional money needed to bring the budget in line with European targets.

“At this stage the Government will have to examine every possible area of expenditure, income and so on – because we are in a crisis situation. There is no point in trying to sugar the pill,” he said.

Mr Carey was speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics. He said the Government would be guided by the recommendations of its own advisory reports as well as the statements of international and European agents.

However, the Cabinet will not cede to demands for corporation tax to be raised.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen will travel to Brussels today to be part of crucial trade talks with Asian leaders but he was adamant Ireland will not be browbeaten by Europe into reducing its corporate tax rate.

Mr Cowen confirmed the view of the Department of Finance that the low tax applied to businesses will not be adjusted.

He said the Government had a policy for attracting investment into Ireland which had been used by the IDA to sell opportunities overseas.

And he reminded the European Commission the Lisbon Treaty, which Ireland voted to accept a year ago yesterday, protected the country’s ability to plot its own taxation policy.

“We have an industrial policy in this country that is about bringing in more investment and getting growth in this country.

“I don’t envisage, and in the Lisbon Treaty these are matters that are totally in the competence of the Irish Government, making decisions we would regard as inappropriate or would put at risk the continuing investment profile,” he said.

Mr Cowen also said he and Finance minister Brian Lenihan had agreed to make a senior civil servant available to the opposition to help price and appraise their own budgetary strategies.

However, the Labour Party’s education spokesman Ruairi Quinn said he did not hold out hope.

“My understanding is that in the previous briefings that have been offered to Eamon Gilmore and Joan Burton, the actual content of what they got was hardly worth the walk across the courtyard. The officials for whatever reason were quite constrained,” he said.


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