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Jobs action plan ‘undermined by stealth taxes’

Monday, 03 March 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Michael O’Kane
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Author: Michael O’Kane (Irish Examiner)

The warning came as the latest CSO figures delivered good news for the Government, as the unemployment rate fell for the sixth quarter in a row to 12.1%. 

The Coalition was also boosted by the news 61,000 jobs were created in the 12 months to December 2013, bringing the total number of people at work above 1.9m, the highest since 2009. 

The largest rates of increase were recorded in agriculture, forestry and fishing, where over 26,000 jobs were created, and the accommodation and food service sector, which created 17,400 jobs, after being partly boosted by The Gathering. 

The figures from the quarterly national household survey were released as Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Jobs Minister Richard Bruton launched the 2014 Action Plan For Jobs, which will focus on entrepreneurs and foreign direct investment. 

The Government has set itself 385 actions to be implemented to help exceed its stated election target of 100,000 jobs by 2016. 

It is hoped up to 10,000 additional jobs will be created by increasing staff numbers at the IDA to attract more foreign investment. 

It will also review tax supports for entrepreneurs, by replacing county enterprise boards with 31 Local Enterprise Offices to drive start ups around the country. 

Under the scheme, an ‘X-Factor style’ competition, with a €2m prize fund, is to be held to find the best entrepreneur in each county. 

Mr Kenny said he expects Ireland’s unemployment level will very soon come down to the European average of 12%. 

However, Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary warned the property tax, water charges, and increased private health insurance will weaken domestic demand and would cost jobs. 

He accused the Government of juggling figures in an attempt to downplay the jobs crisis, and said there were 82,162 people in job activation programmes who are not included in the Live Register figures. 

The CSO figures showed the jobless rate came down from 12.7% to 12.1% at the end of last year with the rate for the long-term unemployed — those out of work for a year or more — down 1% to 7.2% during 2013. 

Long-term unemployed make up almost two-thirds of all unemployed. 

The Taoiseach said: "We recognise there are too many people who have not seen a creeping confidence coming back to the economy.”

 IDA Ireland has targeted 6,000 new jobs directly and plans to work to win another 155 new foreign direct investment projects, a fifth of which will be from growth markets. It said another 4,000 jobs could be created as an indirect result of foreign companies hiring here. 

Yesterday the Government also held its special Cabinet meeting on boosting the construction sector and pledged it will publish its plans before St Patrick’s Day.

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