Business guru advises five-year tax break to attract foreign investment

FIVE-year tax breaks for industries prepared to set up in Ireland should to be introduced to attract companies that have a high technology content.

That is the view of Gerry Robinson, knighted in 2003 for his services to the arts and business in Britain.

From Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal, Mr Robinson is former chairman of BSkyB and Granada TV.

He said if the Irish economy is to get back on track, the Government has to adopt a “totally pragmatic” approach to getting firms using cutting edge technologies to base themselves here in Ireland.

He identified the computer games industry as one of those potential sectors that, if lured here, could generate huge earnings globally and create well-paid jobs with a very high skills content.

The explosion of computer games in the past decade has been enormous and as the technology continues to evolve, it is an area destined to continue to grow at an enormous pace for years to come, Mr Robinson said.

About five companies in Scotland have targeted the computer games sector and are beginning to have significant success.

“If we make it attractive for companies like that to set up here, then it will happen. And the surest way to success is to offer those we are trying to attract in here from the games sector is to give them ‘five-year tax holidays’.”

The Government should target companies that have started to develop the games sector in Scotland and elsewhere, he said.

“Get out there and get two or three of them and give them the incentives that will ensure they move here,” he said.

To guarantee success the Government needed more than the 12.5% corporation tax already on the table.

Speaking to journalists during the Global Irish Economic Forum, Mr Robinson said Ireland should also adopt a more strategic approach to the use of technology to develop niche food products aimed at specific segments of the global population.

The creation of a particular set of diets geared to old people with “particular health issues” should be considered as a strategic option.

As food technology evolves, opportunities to create diets geared to assisting people with health issues will present themselves, he said.

Those emerging areas offer windows of opportunity to the well established Irish food sector, he said.

Food companies here are already in that evolving sector, providing nutritional drinks and other foods geared to improving health.

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