In yesterday's Irish Independent, there was the revelation of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor, proposing that there would be a special 30% tax rate for Irish graduates abroad who would be returning to Ireland. Her spokesman has essentially confirmed as much in his comments this morning in response to the story. It beggars belief that such a proposal could be put forward by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation given the discriminatory nature of the proposal itself. In essence, anybody who stayed with it in Ireland, committed to a house, mortgage, is a graduate and stayed the pace here will be paying up to a 50% marginal rate of tax on salaries of more than €33,500, whereas somebody coming back will only be paying an effective rate of 30%. Obviously, the Government could not restrict that solely to Irish graduates. Presumably, it would apply to European graduates. That would mean that Europeans would be on a 30% tax rate at the same IT desk or place of employment as the person who graduated, worked and stayed in Ireland, who would be on about 50%.
Can the Taoiseach confirm that the proposal is not going to proceed? It makes absolutely no sense. It is very discriminatory. It refers to anyone earning more than €75,000.
Clearly, construction workers and others on similar earnings need not apply. The proposal is discriminatory in that respect also. Does the Taoiseach accept that such a measure would be discriminatory and unfair and will he confirm that it will not be realised in the forthcoming budget?
As one graduate said to me yesterday, people on the Government side and other sources have been questioning calls for investment in education and child care. This type of investment is the most effective way of dealing with medium and long-term issues with a skilled workforce. We need to invest in these areas rather than having resources spent in such a discriminatory manner, with dubious outcomes in terms of the objective. In other words, it would make far greater sense to allocate resources to third level education to prevent the decline in world rankings that is occurring and to give additional supports to child care providers and the child care sector, which is labouring under great strain. Many graduates in the child care sector earn close to the minimum wage and are in dire straits. This is a question of priorities and the Minister needs to sort out our priorities in that regard.