Opening Bell: Grants for first-time buyers, NTMA bonuses quadruple, 150 new jobs in recruitment

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The Government is set to introduce a new scheme to give financial aid to first-time buyers.

The scheme, based on upfront tax repayments, will be introduced as part of Budget 2017.

The Irish Independent reports Government figures as saying that the grant given will be "very generous".

It will aim to help prospective homebuyers that have been hampered by Central Bank lending restrictions.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney will publish details of the plan later this week.

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The number of National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) staff receiving bonuses almost quadrupled in 2015.

Some 60 staff at the agency received €492,5000 in payments for "exceptional performance" last year. That's up significantly from the 16 staff taking home a total of an extra €79,200 in 2014.

No members of the senior management team received bonus payments in the last two years.

The NTMA refused to be drawn on further details. The agency issued €13bn of bonds at low yields and – through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund (Isif) – committed €759m to Irish investments in 2015.

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A leading Irish recruitment company has announced 150 new jobs in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Kerry.

Sigmar Recruitment has confirmed 50 of the new jobs will be filled by the end of the year.

The remaining positions in consultation, sales and digital marketing will be filled by 2018. A "significant" number of the positions will be opening outside of Dublin.

Sigmar has also created a new 'centre of excellence' in Tralee to meet major demand for Irish talent from US multinationals.

Sigmar Recruitment’s chief commercial officer, Robert Mac Giolla Phádraig, said:

"This investment is a high value play to help some of the fastest growing companies in the world find the best talent in the world from here in Ireland, something we are immensely proud of."

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The Central Statistics Office (CSO) will continue using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross National Product (GNP) as its primary tools for economic measurement.
 
The measurements came under-fire last week after the CSO reported revised findings that 2015 GDP had risen by 26.3%, dwarfing expectations.
 
Critics said the findings did not paint an accurate picture of the current state of the economy, with Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman referring to the findings as "leprechaun economics".
 
The CSO said last week that a "high-level cross-sector consultative group" would be formed to examine whether its current methods were working.

A senior CSO official, however, told the Sunday Independent that GDP and GNP, and the methodology used to reach them, are required by EU legislation and will remain the headline indicators of Irish economic growth.