Leading economist says Ireland is too reliant on multinationals

What happens if major foreign firms up and leave?

Leading economist says Ireland is too reliant on multinationals

Google Ireland's head offices on Barrow Street, Dublin. Photo: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland.

John FitzGerald, a respected Irish economist and Trinity professor, has voiced his concerns that our economy has become far too reliant on multinationals.

The warning came following the release of new figures showing that the Government took twice what was expected in tax revenue from foreign firms thus far in 2016.

FitzGerald, who is a Research Affiliate at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and a member of the Commission of the Central Bank, foresees significant problems if other European countries decide to cut their rates of corporation tax, as MNCs start to look elsewhere.

FitzGerald said:

"Being vulnerable to a small number of firms changing their location, where you have no control over the factors which may drive what they do...

"I think it is unwise. I think that we need to rely less on corporation tax by the end of the decade than we are now relying on today".

The European Union's Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Monday that: "It is vital that multinational companies pay their taxes where they generate profits".

Moscovici also spoke about a draft directive that would introduce an entry tax and an exit tax on the movement of corporate earnings to low-tax countries such as Ireland:

"I want us to agree the entire fiscal package that is now with the Council of Ministers and I hope agreement can be found in the first half, under the Dutch presidency".

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the United States government has unveiled measures to curb corporate "inversion" deals involving US firms.

In the wake of the news, shares in one of Ireland's largest pharmaceutical firms plummeted – Dublin-based Allergan is expected to merge with Pfizer with the latter's tax affairs moving to Ireland.