Friday, 6 June 2008

Irish IBEC, Fine Gael & Labour cannot be trusted on taxation


Libertas welcomes strong support for “No” from leading economists

Libertas Chairman Declan Ganley launched his strongest attack on the “Yes” campaign to date this morning, when he said that Fine Gael, Labour, and IBEC “simply could not be trusted” on the issue of taxation.

Mr. Ganley quoted IBEC’s statements in 2006 and 2007 which mirror almost exactly what Libertas has been saying on enhanced co-operation, and also cited the voting record of Fine Gael and Labour MEPs in the EU Parliament on measures relating to the introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base.

IBEC said in 2006 that it feared that enhanced co-operation could see the introduction of the CCCTB across Europe, and said that business needed to stop this happening.

Fine Gael and Labour MEP’s voted in the EU Parliament in favour of the Bersani Report, which called for the introduction of CCCTB, and criticised countries like Ireland that stand in its way.

The text of the motion read as follows (extract):

6. Regrets that some Member States still reject the need for greater cooperation on tax matters, in particular with regard to the tax bases applicable to companies, bearing in mind the fact that coordination between the Member States with regard to company taxation is one of the instruments laid down in the ‘integrated guidelines’;

A common consolidated corporate tax base at European level

7. Stresses the importance of adopting a common consolidated tax base which will fulfil the requirement of greater integration in the internal market; supports the Commission proposal and is convinced that the introduction of a common consolidated tax base for companies established in at least two Member States – a base which will make it possible to determine the taxable revenue according to a set of common rules defined at European level and applicable to an individual group of companies – is the best way of tackling effectively the tax obstacles hampering companies’ cross-border activities;

Mr. Ganley said that the voting record of Irish MEPs on the CCCTB completely belied any credibility they had on the issue of taxation.

“Throughout this campaign, I have said nothing while people in Fine Gael and Labour launched personal and vicious attacks on me because I dared to raise the issue of CCCTB. Day after day, Fine Gael and Labour roll out spokespeople to say that Ireland’s tax veto is sacrosanct, and that our tax competitiveness is protected.

The same people who preach to the Irish people about the importance of a “yes” to Lisbon have gone over to Brussels and betrayed their constituents in the most shameful manner.

There is no reason to believe anything that Fine Gael or Labour say on matters of taxation, given that they have voted to criticise Ireland in the EU parliament for wanting to retain our tax independence.

In particular, Proinsias De Rossa’s vote on taxation should be read alongside his vote in the Parliament not to respect the outcome of Ireland’s referendum.

These people were elected to serve Ireland. In reality, they are serving the agenda of their masters in Brussels.

IBEC has taken its absolute subservience to Government to a new level in this campaign. In 2006,it expressed its concerns about CCCTB, in particular with regard to enhanced co-operation in precisely the terms currently used by Libertas.

For example, in a communication to its members on November 1st, 2006, IBEC said:

“The idea of enhanced cooperation among a restricted set of member states changes the political calculus of the CCCTB issue. The passing of EU-wide legislation on fiscal issues requires unanimity among the member states in Council. However, under the decision-making provisions for enhanced cooperation, the CCCTB project could be introduced merely with the support of a qualified majority of member states in Council. It is therefore much more likely that a CCCTB could be instituted at the European level under enhanced cooperation.

Those who say Lisbon is good for Business have a duty to explain why, and as of yet they have failed to do so. It is clear that IBEC, in particular, view the importance of Lisbon through the prism of the next round of national pay talks.

Their position today is in contrast to their position on May 15th 2007, when Turlough O’Sullivan said of the CCCTB that

“Business should put a stop to this now and urge the Commission to devote its resources to the more fruitful elimination of identified tax obstacles to the internal market.”

The fact is that business can, and should, put a stop to CCCTB with a “No” vote.

Ireland’s EU Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, has said that the CCCTB is “an underhand tactic to destroy tax competition in Europe”.

Meanwhile, leading economists and business figures have said that they will be voting “No”. Over the weekend we saw Senator Shane Ross, Jim Power, and Colm Rapple join people like Ulick McEvaddy, Ray Kinsella, and Dr. Chris Coughlan in stating that they will be voting “No”.

There are very many more in business who will be quietly saying “No” on June 12th.

The Government cannot continue to maintain that those with Ireland’s economic interest at heart are unified behind the Lisbon Treaty. In fact we see a pattern whereby those organisations that are financially dependent on Government say yes, and those voices that are independent are beginning to say “No”.

People are looking at the Libertas position on taxation, and moving towards us.

The issue of taxation is front and centre of the debate and it will remain so until polling day”.

This article first appeared on Libertas.org