News Archives - Page 5 of 289 - Pat Carroll PCCO - Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors

EU warns against ‘economic disruption’ after Trump Europe travel ban

The EU will today assess the travel ban on Europe imposed by US President Donald Trump, European Council President Charles Michel said, adding: “Economic disruption must be avoided.” 

Michel coordinates action by the leaders of the EU’s 27 member states.

His tweet follows an overnight decision by Trump to suspend travel from Europe – but not Britain which is no longer part of the bloc – to the US for 30 days in a bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. 

“Following the travel ban President Trump announced, we will assess the situation today,” Michel said. 

“Europe is taking all necessary measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, limit the number of affected people and support research,” he said. 

Trump’s order is to be implemented from late Friday. 

The White House said it would apply to non-US citizens and residents and would not be applied to goods. 

According to the last count from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control yesterday, more than 17,000 cases of infection of the new virus have been recorded across Europe, more than half of them in Italy.

There have also been 711 COVID-19 related deaths.

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Tourism industry says VAT deferral scheme vital

The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) has said a VAT deferral scheme is vital to alleviate serious cashflow pressures in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The representative body said immediate action is critical because thousands of jobs are at stake due to the volume of cancellations and lack of future bookings.

“Coronavirus is first and foremost a public health issue but the business and economic implications are stark,” said Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, CEO of ITIC.

“We fear that thousands of tourism jobs will be lost in the next few weeks and are urging Government to do all within its power to support the county’s largest indigenous industry and biggest regional employer.”

In order to alleviate cashflow pressures, ITIC has called for VAT payments due on March 19th to be deferred for tourism and hospitality businesses.

This happened during the Foot and Mouth Crisis in 2001.

The call was backed by other industry groups, including the Irish Hotels Federation, the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions and other ITIC members.

The call came as new data released by the Central Statistics Office today showed the number of overseas trips made to Ireland rose just 1.8% last year.

In total 10.808 million visitors came here during the 12 months, compared to 10.616 a year earlier.

Those travelers from abroad stayed a combined 70.4m nights here, down 0.7% on 2018.

The tourists spent a total of €6.867bn in the Irish economy during the year, down 0.1% on the same period the year before.

Fares accounted for €5.101bn of that, a drop of 0.9%.

The small increase in visitor numbers and reduction in spending is a consequence of lower volumes of tourists coming from the UK as a result of Brexit uncertainty and a decline in tourists from the US.

“Our focus now is very much on 2020,” said Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland.

“The outbreak and spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) is having a significant impact on travel and presents an unprecedented and extremely serious situation for Irish tourism.”

“2020 was already going to be a challenging year for tourism, with issues like Brexit and the delayed delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft; Covid-19 is an extremely serious development which is affecting all of our key source markets.”

“We are in daily contact with our tourism industry partners and we know that they are reporting significant cancellations and very few new bookings.”

“We continue to monitor the situation closely and are reviewing our promotional activity on a market by market basis and on a daily basis. Tourism Ireland will be ready to roll out an extensive kick-start programme, when the time is right.”

During the final three months of the year, the volume of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents did increase 0.5%, to 2.425m.

The number of nights spend here by visitors was 0.4% lower though compared to the last quarter of 2018.

The average time spent here by foreign visitors who came during the last four months of the year was 6.2 nights compared to 6.3 nights a year earlier.

Earnings from overseas tourists during the period were €1.378bn, down 1.6%.

Trips by Irish residents travelling abroad rose 2.8% over the quarter compared to the same four months in 2018.

On average, Irish people who went away during the period travelled for 6.5 nights.

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Banks urge EU to ease capital rules to fight coronavirus fallout

Europe’s banks have called on European Union authorities to ease capital rules and other regulatory barriers to helping businesses struggling because of the coronavirus epidemic. 

The European Banking Federation (EBF) comprises national banking industry bodies from across Europe.

It has set out a three-stage plan in a letter to the European Union, European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority. 

It asks regulators “for assistance to be able to work constructively with borrowers… which will require flexibility to stem the regulatory-enforced barriers to finance borrowers in temporary struggle.” 

The industry body proposed a set of “immediate decisions” to avoid the flow of cash or liquidity to businesses and households drying up in coming weeks. 

These could be followed by a set of medium-term actions and other measures to “smooth” prudential or capital rule effects on lenders in the next year, the letter said. 

The ECB is due to meet today and faces pressure to take action to ease the impact of coronavirus on the economy after founding EU member Italy went into lockdown due to the epidemic. 

The Bank of England and the Federal Reserve have both made emergency interest rate cuts. 

EU authorities should enable a “moratorium tool” to help keep cash flowing to sound borrowers facing temporary challenges due to coronavirus, the EBF said. 

Regulators in the bloc could also improve the ability of banks to lend by easing the so-called counter cyclical buffer which is built up in good times for use during market shocks or downturns.

The Bank of England cut this buffer to 0% yesterday. 

The EBF said that other types of buffers imposed by national regulators on top of EU minimum requirements could also be eased. 

Regulators should also allow banks to divert the excess liquidity they hold above minimum requirements to non-financial businesses on a temporary basis, the EBF said. 

The ECB should also extend its long term funding to banks, known as the Targeted Longer-Term Refinancing Operations or TLTRO programmes, in time and scope, it added. 

“In the meantime, the EBF is working on a wider set of measures in more detail for the next months which we look forward to sending to you soon,” the letter said.

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Restaurants seeing 80% corporate booking cancellations

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has urged the Government to immediately implement emergency business supports to prevent closures and job losses as the spread of coronavirus hits the industry.

The association said that its members are experiencing 80% corporate booking cancellations due to Covid-19. 

It said the cancellation of the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin will result in more financial losses for restaurants and local businesses.

But it added that it fully supports the Government’s decision to cancel all parades in the interest of public safety.

“The cancellation of one of the biggest tourism draws of the year is a further blow to many restaurant businesses and could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said. 

“While our number one priority is the safety of our customers and the public, we need the Government to step up and step in and help Irish restaurants survive,” he added. 

The association wants the Government to immediately cut the VAT rate to 9% for tourism and hospitality businesses for a minimum of six months.

It also wants to see banks deferring loan repayments for at least six months and says that Revenue should introduce a moratorium on VAT payments.

It also calls for employers’ PRSI to be halved in order to support employers.

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World market emerge from rout as stimulus hopes calm panic

Wall Street stocks bounced in opening trade today, recovering some of the losses from yesterday’s rout, in anticipation of stimulus measures to address the economic hit from coronavirus. 

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones had gained 2.7% after losing more than 2,000 points yesterday in its worst session since 2008. Meanwhile, the broad-based S&P 500 surged 2.5%, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 2.6%.

After bouncing back in earlier trade following yesterday’s mauling, European markets had pared most of their earlier gains this afternoon.

London’s FTSE index was up 0.2% by 3pm, while the Paris CAC dipped 0.3% and the Frankfurt DAX was flat.

Dublin’s ISEQ index also pared back its earlier gains to stand 0.2% higher with shares in Bank of Ireland up 5.3% and AIB gaining 1.9%.

Asian stocks had also bounced today on hopes that global policymakers would introduce co-ordinated stimulus to cushion the economic impact of a coronavirus outbreak. 

Oil similarly clawed back some of its massive losses from yesterday, rallying 7% and offering hope that markets had found a floor, although sentiment was still fragile a day after prices plunged. 

Supporting the mood was a pledge from President Donald Trump to take “major” steps to protect the economy and float the idea of a payroll tax cut with congressional Republicans. 

The gains in the US and European futures come on the back of a 1.36% rise in MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, having dropped more than 5% on Monday. 

But despite the bounce, analysts warned it was too early to call a trough in equity markets.

Japan’s Nikkei index ended the day up 0.85%, after touching its lowest level since April 2017 earlier in the day.

The Australian market closed up 3.1% as some went hunting for bargains in beaten down stocks. 

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was trading up 1.7% as new domestic coronavirus cases tumbled and President Xi Jinping’s visit to the epicentre of the epidemic lifted sentiment. Shares in Hong Kong closed 1.4% higher.

Headlines on the coronavirus, however, were still no brighter with Italy ordering everyone across the country not to move around other than for work and emergencies, while banning all public gatherings. 

“Although uncertainty is very high, we now expect similar restrictions will be put in place across Europe in the coming weeks,” warned economists at JPMorgan. 

Such has been the conflagration of market wealth that analysts assumed policy makers would have to react aggressively to prevent a self-fulfilling economic crisis. 

The US Federal Reserve yesterday sharply stepped up the size of its fund injections into markets to head off stress. 

Having delivered an emergency rate cut only last week, investors are fully pricing an easing of at least 75 basis points at the next Fed meeting on March 18, while a cut to near zero was now seen as likely by April. 

Britain’s finance minister is due to deliver his annual budget tomorrow and there is much talk of coordinated stimulus with the Bank of England. 

The European Central Bank meets on Thursday and will be under intense pressure to act, even though rates there are already deeply negative. 

“Italy’s decision to quarantine the whole country will affect 15% of Europe’s GDP, putting thee ECB at the forefront of efforts to cushion the escalating economic deterioration,” said Brian Martin, a senior international economist at ANZ.

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Revenue urges early engagement if virus causing tax difficulties

Revenue has said it will engage with any viable business that experiences temporary cashflow difficulties as a result of exceptional circumstances such as the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Collector-General Joe Howley said that Revenue is aware that when temporary cashflow issues arise for a business, it can be a worrying time in terms of the ability to keep an otherwise good tax compliance record on track. 

He said that rather than hoping such payment difficulties will fix themselves in time, he strongly encourages affected businesses to take some practical steps.

These include businesses continuing to send in their tax returns on time and to engage early with with Revenue is a business runs into, or faces, difficulty in paying their tax.

Revenue said it works very successfully with businesses that engage early to resolve their tax payment difficulties.

This is evidenced by the fact that, at the end of 2019, over 6,300 businesses had phased payment arrangements in place covering €73m in tax debt.

“It is important that businesses know that we will work with them to resolve their tax payment difficulties,” Mr Howley said. 

“With early and meaningful engagement, we can generally agree payment arrangements that are acceptable to both the business and Revenue. This gets the affected business successfully beyond the payment pressure point and keeps a good tax compliance record on track,” he added.

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5% increase in life satisfaction in Ireland – OECD report

Analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that life satisfaction rose in Ireland by 5% or more between 2013 and 2018.

The How’s Life report, which looks at all aspects of well-being from health and social connections to income and security, shows that since 2013 life satisfaction has either remained stable or increased in most OECD countries.

Ireland was one of ten countries where life satisfaction rose by 5% or more. The other countries were Portugal, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Korea, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Italy and Slovenia.

However, the report also shows less positive findings.

While housing affordability has improved in 11 OECD countries, it has consistently worsened in ten. Finland, Ireland and Portugal now spend over 2% more of their income on housing than they did in 2010.

In terms of working hours, the biggest increase in the number of people spending long hours at work is in Ireland.

The report shows that on average, around 7% of employees in OECD countries routinely work 50 hours or more each week.

However, the “strongest increase” (2%) in people spending long hours at work is occurring in Ireland. 

When it comes to high speed broadband, there are differences in high-speed internet access between urban and rural areas in most OECD countries.

Along with Greece, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Lithuania and Hungary, the gap in high-speed internet access between large urban areas and rural areas in Ireland exceeds 11%.

By contrast, the smallest differences (below 1 percentage point) are in Iceland, the Netherlands and the UK.

Less than half of the population in the average OECD country, 43%, trust their national government.

But this represents a slight improvement from the 40% level recorded in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2010-12.

The largest increases in trust of more than 15 percentage points, occurred in the Czech Republic, Ireland and Japan.

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions per capita, 16 out of 37 OECD countries have consistently increased their material footprint per capita.

By contrast, three OECD countries with below average footprints bucked the overall trend and consistently improved their consumption of the Earth’s materials – material footprints fell by more than three tonnes per capita in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

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Emergency legislation aims to amend rules on sick pay

The Government is to introduce emergency legislation in the Dáil to amend the rules on sick pay, which will see Illness Benefit rise from €203 per week to €305.

It will be available from the first day of illness rather than after six days as at present, and conditionality will be waived to allow the self employed to receive it.

There will be no minimum number of PRSI contributions, but medical certification will be required.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the objective was to ensure that workers would not be afraid to self-isolate on financial grounds.

Speaking at a press conference this evening, he said that the new legislation would be in the Dáil next Thursday.

He also said that the Seanad would have to be recalled because of this.

The issue of sick pay for workers affected by Covid-19 was discussed by the Cabinet sub-committee, chaired by Mr Varadkar, at a meeting today.

In response to the announcement of the measures, Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Patricia King said: “It was of the utmost importance to uphold the net incomes of all affected workers.”

She added that there “is an onus on employers to pay their employees, and that this should not fall entirely on the State”.

ISME – the Irish SME Association – said the changes announced by the Government will “greatly assist in ensuring employees are willing to self-isolate”.

The Construction Industry Federation has said it welcomed the Government’s commitment to provide sick pay as a measure to reduce the negative impact of the coronavirus on employees, the self employed, businesses and the wider economy.

It said the package will give some comfort to those affected by the virus and is an important part of the Government’s containment strategy.

CIF added that the Government must continue to engage with specific sectors of the industry on how best the package is deployed.

Special arrangements for school staff who may need to self-isolate

The Department of Education has announced special arrangements for school staff who may need to self isolate as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis.

It has also confirmed that school employees will continue to be paid if their school is closed following HSE advice as a result of the virus.

In a circular sent to schools, the Department said that any employee obliged to self isolate will be paid and the days will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record. Substitution costs will also be paid.

If an employee who is not ill is advised by health authorities to self-isolate then the employer should consider alternative working arrangements it said, such as working from home.

The Department said that if this is not possible then special leave with pay may be granted.

It has told schools that medical advice and HSE guidelines should be followed regarding any return to work.

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5% increase in life satisfaction in Ireland – OECD report

Analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that life satisfaction rose in Ireland by 5% or more between 2013 and 2018.

The How’s Life report, which looks at all aspects of well-being from health and social connections to income and security, shows that since 2013 life satisfaction has either remained stable or increased in most OECD countries.

Ireland was one of ten countries where life satisfaction rose by 5% or more. The other countries were Portugal, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Korea, Hungary, Poland, Spain, Italy and Slovenia.

However, the report also shows less positive findings.

While housing affordability has improved in 11 OECD countries, it has consistently worsened in ten. Finland, Ireland and Portugal now spend over 2% more of their income on housing than they did in 2010.

In terms of working hours, the biggest increase in the number of people spending long hours at work is in Ireland.

The report shows that on average, around 7% of employees in OECD countries routinely work 50 hours or more each week.

However, the “strongest increase” (2%) in people spending long hours at work is occurring in Ireland. 

When it comes to high speed broadband, there are differences in high-speed internet access between urban and rural areas in most OECD countries.

Along with Greece, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Lithuania and Hungary, the gap in high-speed internet access between large urban areas and rural areas in Ireland exceeds 11%.

By contrast, the smallest differences (below 1 percentage point) are in Iceland, the Netherlands and the UK.

Less than half of the population in the average OECD country, 43%, trust their national government.

But this represents a slight improvement from the 40% level recorded in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2010-12.

The largest increases in trust of more than 15 percentage points, occurred in the Czech Republic, Ireland and Japan.

When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions per capita, 16 out of 37 OECD countries have consistently increased their material footprint per capita.

By contrast, three OECD countries with below average footprints bucked the overall trend and consistently improved their consumption of the Earth’s materials – material footprints fell by more than three tonnes per capita in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

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World market emerge from rout as stimulus hopes calm panic

Europe’s main stocks indices opened higher this morning, a day after markets suffered their biggest losses in more than a decade on crashing oil prices and coronavirus fears.

Shares in London and Paris had gained 1.5% in early trade, while the Frankfurt market was up 0.8%.

Shares in Dublin also rallied with the ISEQ index up 0.9% in early trade. 

Asian stocks also bounced today on hopes that global policymakers would introduce co-ordinated stimulus to cushion the economic impact of a coronavirus outbreak. 

Oil similarly clawed back some of its massive losses from yesterday, rallying 7% and offering hope that markets had found a floor, although sentiment was still fragile a day after prices plunged. 

Supporting the mood was a pledge from President Donald Trump to take “major” steps to protect the economy and float the idea of a payroll tax cut with congressional Republicans. 

“Talk of coordinated fiscal and monetary support is getting louder,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior foreign exchange strategist at National Australia Bank. 

The gains in the US and European futures come on the back of a 1.36% rise in MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, having dropped more than 5% on Monday. 

But despite the bounce, analysts warned it was too early to call a trough in equity markets.

Japan’s Nikkei index ended the day up 0.85%, after touching its lowest level since April 2017 earlier in the day.

Japan will unveil a second stimulus package later today to offset the impact of the outbreak. 

The Australian market closed up 3.1% as some went hunting for bargains in beaten down stocks. 

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index was trading up 1.7% as new domestic coronavirus cases tumbled and President Xi Jinping’s visit to the epicentre of the epidemic lifted sentiment. Shares in Hong Kong closed 1.4% higher.

Headlines on the coronavirus, however, were still no brighter with Italy ordering everyone across the country not to move around other than for work and emergencies, while banning all public gatherings. 

“Although uncertainty is very high, we now expect similar restrictions will be put in place across Europe in the coming weeks,” warned economists at JPMorgan. 

Such has been the conflagration of market wealth that analysts assumed policy makers would have to react aggressively to prevent a self-fulfilling economic crisis. 

The US Federal Reserve yesterday sharply stepped up the size of its fund injections into markets to head off stress. 

Having delivered an emergency rate cut only last week, investors are fully pricing an easing of at least 75 basis points at the next Fed meeting on March 18, while a cut to near zero was now seen as likely by April. 

Britain’s finance minister is due to deliver his annual budget tomorrow and there is much talk of coordinated stimulus with the Bank of England. 

The European Central Bank meets on Thursday and will be under intense pressure to act, even though rates there are already deeply negative. 

“Italy’s decision to quarantine the whole country will affect 15% of Europe’s GDP, putting thee ECB at the forefront of efforts to cushion the escalating economic deterioration,” said Brian Martin, a senior international economist at ANZ.

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