As our campaign for full pay equalisation and restoration ratchets up, the cries of ‘The country can’t afford it’ and ‘frontline services will have to suffer to fund pay rises’ increase. Minister Leo Varadkar took it to the extreme today by pitching it as a choice between paying social welfare recipients the paltry rises that the government gave them in the budget and paying public servants.
So I thought it would be useful to point out a few sources of possible funding.
Because it doesn’t have to be a choice between funding public services properly and paying those who work in them properly. Nor should it be a case of pitching public sector worker versus private sector worker.
There are vast untapped and untaxed sources of wealth in this country and it is past time that the trade union movement as a whole pointed them out and demanded that the government make the political choices of taxing wealth and profits rather than cutting from us all the time.
These are just a couple of examples, I know there are plenty of others. Please add your thoughts, or other examples, as comments.
In 2015 Google Ireland recorded sales revenue of €22billion, but paid just €47million in tax.
“Although Google reported booming revenues, its taxable profits were only €341m. This profit figure was small in large part because the company had to meet administrative expenses of €16.9bn. These expenses are thought to be dominated by royalty fees paid to other Google subsidiaries – income which eventually makes its way to a business called Google Holdings Ireland… Google has told investors that, at the end of last year, it had amassed an offshore cash pile of $42.9bn.”
In August the European Commission ruled that use of Ireland’s tax laws had allowed Apple to pay an effective tax rate of 0.005% in 2014. The Commission ruled that Ireland had facilitated Apple in avoiding paying €13billion in tax. The government is appealing the ruling, basically saying we don’t need the money. (http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0830/812819-apple-tax-ireland/) Meanwhile Apple has current cash reserves of over €200billion.
The unregulated and barely visible ‘Shadow Banking’ industry (or Financial Vehicle Corporations to give them their proper title) – basically companies set up to package and re-sell loans – is 10 times the size of our entire GDP yet pays hardly any tax. For example, a company called Orpington Structured Finance 1, based at 5 Harbourmaster Place in Dublin’s IFSC (one of 250 companies based at this address) has gross assets of €1.7billion, no employees, no buildings or machinery and pays Zero tax. And that’s just one example ….
According to a 2015 Central Bank report, the wealthiest 10% of Irish households own over €104billion in shares and other financial assets. This figure increased by €6billion in 2015 alone, and is now over €30billion more than at the peak of the ‘boom’.
And all of that is without talking about the catastrophic political decisions to saddle Irish taxpayers with the enormous gambling debts of international financial speculators and bankers, a debt which we will be paying off for decades to come…..
So, don’t let them present us with a choice between funding public services and paying workers properly. That ‘choice’ is presented to us to divide and conquer. And let us always remember – The greed of bankers and financial speculators crashed the economy, not public sector wages.