December 2006 Archives

Privatisation of Hospitals

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It is patently clear that co-locating private and public hospitals is like trying to mix oil and water. It will give rise to fragmentation, duplication and staffing and operational problems on a massive scale and, most critically, it will drive an even deeper wedge into our inequitable health service. The major political parties should pledge to unwind them and the Dail must ensure that no binding commitments are entered into ahead of the next election and a comprehensive review. Failing that, politicians should give notice that they will progressively introduce terms and conditions that make this "mad cap" scheme unprofitable to the developers.

Instead, what should be done is to retain these "hospital loving" developers to design and build units with step down beds on the proposed sites to be managed by the public hospital. This could be started next spring and done within two years.  Simple !

Broadcast on RTE's Today with Pat Kenny on 21st December 2006.

Reducing the Top Tax Rate

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Three questions for Budget week:

  1. Why should someone earning €50,000 pay tax at 42% on incremental income while an earner of €250,000 might pay only 20% on all income and personal capital gains? 

  2. Why give investment tax breaks directly to individuals when companies are the natural vehicles for making investments?

  3. Why tinker with tax credits for PAYE workers when those with the highest earnings, and therefore the greatest capacity to pay tax, can avail of massive allowances to escape taxes?

The logical answer is to reduce the current top rate and apply it without exception. A new top rate of, say, 35% on income and personal capital gains could give same return to the Exchequer as the present inequitable regime. If people wish to make investments, let them make them through companies where they can avail of allowances and a tax rate of 12.5 per cent. Done this way, all distributions and gains from companies could then be taxed in the normal way, without further relief, at a reduced top rate.

Surely, the top tax rate should apply equally to all taxpayers.

Lead letter was published in the Irish Times on 5th December 2006.

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