Senator Mary White: I request a debate on the Oireachtas Committee report on key issues for female entrepreneurs in Ireland and for their participation in the tech sector – in respect of which I had the honour to act as rapporteur – and ask that the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation come before the House to engage. My presentation was unanimously accepted by the membership of the Committee, including Senator Mullins of Fine Gael.
There are 12 recommendations in the presentation and each of them is very important. However, I want to draw attention to one recommendation today because it is parallel to a statement made by the Irish Tax Institute this week which highlighted that Ireland is not advancing up the global rankings on entrepreneurship. Key Irish entrepreneurs and business leaders have expressed serious concern about our tax environment. As a small open economy, Ireland’s export sales are necessary in order to sustain both our standard of living and existing employment and to create new employment. It is a sad fact that there is still 9.5% unemployment and that the figure for youth unemployment stands at almost 21%, which represents a loss of human capital. In July 2015, the National Competitiveness Council drew attention to the hundreds of third level graduates who have left this country. This is the key point.
The Committee suggested that, in the next Budget, the Minister for Finance should remove the tax discrimination facing self-employed entrepreneurs, including PAYE tax credit and the lack of social welfare rights. The Government should consider an entrepreneurs’ capital tax at a much lower rate than the current horrendous 33% capital tax rate. What is happening at the moment is very worrying. Many Irish potential entrepreneurs are leaving to set up businesses in the UK and the United States because of our horrendous 33% Capital Acquisitions Tax.
Senator Mary Ann O’Brien: I support Senator White on the call to bring down Capital Gains Tax. It is utterly ridiculous at 33%. We will actually get more money in if we bring it down.
Senator Mary White: If as many women set up businesses as men every month, we would have 500 extra jobs a month.
Senator Michael Mullins: I support Senator White’s call for a discussion with Minister Bruton. I know she has put a lot of work and effort into the report.
Senator John Gilroy: We heard much comment about the loss of the Web Summit to Lisbon. While the reasons for it are probably varied and complex, the cost of accommodation here is a factor.
Senator Mary White: It is about money and greed – despite all the support from Irish institutions.
Leader of the House (Senator Maurice Cummins): Senator White called for a debate on the report on female entrepreneurs and also asked that tax measures would be included in the Budget for various areas. I am happy to inform the House that we will have a debate with Minister Howlin, and hopefully with Minister Noonan, next week. I am glad we can facilitate Senator White’s request, which is coming at the right time.