Thursday, December 10, 2009

Irish Taxation Institute: Budget Breakfast Briefing

This morning,  I joined a panel discussion hosted by the Irish Taxation Institute (ITI) on the morning after the national budget.  The discussion was moderated by Bryan Dobson of RTE,  and included Liam Grimes (KPMG), Danny McCoy (IBEC), Olivia Lynch (ITI) and Colm McCarthy (UCD),  as well as myself representing Engineers Ireland.   About 270 people attended.

After a brief overview of the main provisions of the budget by Liam Grimes,  each of the panellists was asked to give a brief reaction to the budget.   There then followed about an hour of questions and answers dialogue with the audience.

During my own initial presentation,  and during the Q&A session,  I stressed the importance of continued investment in infrastructure,  contradicting Colm McCarthy's view that infrastructure spend can and should be cut back.  In response to his comments about Dublin Airport's Terminal-2 project,  I emphasised the need to invest in our water infrastructure,  transportation and logistics infrastructures,  broadband infrastructure,  and educational infrastructures.   In laying a foundation for the smart economy,  infrastructure is critical;   I also believe that inadequate roads infrastructure leads to unnecessary carbon emissions,  and ironic in the light of the carbon tax.   I also noted that the CIC report for the construction sector remains un-implemented,  and I expressed hope that the new "solidarity bond" might be used to plug the gap left by the announced 1Beuro shortfall in infrastructure spend.

I also discussed the international reaction to the budget (positive, from what I have seen on the internet) and how a return to our competitiveness of a few years ago may be insufficient;  the world economy has moved on,  and both the USA and UK economies are in difficulty while Asia is bouncing back - however Asia has not been a traditional trading market for us.

I also gave a short update on the Taoiseach's Innovation Taskforce,  of which I am a member,  and which intends to report to Cabinet imminently.

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