Opening Bell: Expensive Ireland, Revenue's tax evasion clampdown, Greek bailout

Get up to speed with today's breaking business news...

Ireland is the second most expensive EU country for goods and services.

Eurostat estimated that prices for a broad selection of products are 25% pricier than the EU average.

Ireland ranked most expensive for alcohol and tobacco, with prices 175% that of the average.

The country priced above the average in all price categories, bar consumer electronics.

Denmark was the most expensive at 139% the EU average, with Bulgaria (48%) and Romania (52%) being the two cheapest.

______________________________________________________

The Revenue Commissioners has hired 100 extra staff to focus on audit investigations and tax evasion since the start of the year.

Nearly two-thirds of the new executive officer hires (65) will have to undergo a two-year training programme before they properly commence work.

An extra €5 million had been set aside in Budget 2017 for Revenue to tackle Irish tax evaders who are hiding their money in offshore accounts.

The clampdown is anticipated to earn the State an additional €80m. Former Finance Minister Michael Noonan was moved to tackle the issue following the publication of the 'Panama Papers' in early 2016.

______________________________________________________

The State's competition watchdog has called for an more effective home repossessions regime, according to The Irish Times.

It comes as part of a series of recommendations from the Competition and consumer Protection Commission on how to address a "dysfunctional" mortgage market with the highest prices in Europe.

The authority argued that restrictions on lenders being able to "possess loan security" in the event of a default serve to raise loan rates for the wider market.

“Objectively, the scale of non-performing loans in Ireland is high relative to European peers and the number of loans in arrears over 720 days is exceptionally high. Despite this, repossessions are very low,” it stated, adding that the excessive legal backlog of cases is evidence of “a courts system that could work better”.

______________________________________________________

The country left Thursday's Eurogroup meeting with the promise of a fresh €8.5bn instalment to ensure it won't default on next month's repayments.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)) wants Eurozone countries to offer the Greeks debt relief but Germany remains strongly opposed to the move.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said of what is the beleaguered Mediterranean country's third bailout loan:

"Nobody claims that this is the best solution. That would have been a final approval on debt relief so that ther e would be clarity. This is second best."