Opening Bell: Revenue misses tax target, Galway Docks development, Dublin tech jobs

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The Department of Finance has revealed that income tax takings for March fell short of the target set in Budget 2017.

Over €1.29 billion was brought in last month, some €57 million below the target.

Looking at the first three months of the year, the €4.41bn take missed the department's target by €180m. Most strikingly, the Universal Social Charge (USC), was roughly €60m below target.

The department is now launching an investigation into the reasons behind this unexpected drop, particularly because USC should, as with PAYE, record increases that mirror sharp rises in employment.

The latest CSO figures show that unemployment fell to 6.4% last month, with the jobless rate now down from the 8.3% it stood at a year ago.

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The governor of the Central Bank has criticised the help-to-buy scheme and admitted that the Irish property market is reaching a point where only the rich can afford to buy.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Finance Committee yesterday, Professor Philip Lane said:

"Prices are going up to an extent that only people on high incomes can afford house prices."

Turning to the Government's new first-time buyer's grant, Prof Lane stated:

"I don't think there can be any doubt, if you have additional capacity to enter the system there is going to be impact effect, even though it only applies to new builds, it will of course drive up prices."

He questioned whether the grant was the correct way to fix the housing crisis:

"If you're offering €20,000 rebate, is that the best use of that funding? But that's for the Oireachtas to [decide]."

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A substantial office development in Galway city is likely to get the city council's go-ahead in time to attract post-Brexit foreign direct investment, according to The Irish Times.

The planned €100m complex overlooking Galway Docks is set to include four top-end office blocks (making up 26,000 sq m) and just over 2,000 sq m of retail space.

Developer Gerry Barrett, who exited NAMA two years ago, will launch the Bonham Dock venture this week. He purchased the two-acre docklands site for €9m in 2005, when it was still being used as an oil storage depot by Topaz. It went on to be used as an entertainment centre for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2008.

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Over 300 tech jobs are being created in Dublin.

IT services company Version 1 has confirmed that positions will be available in areas such as systems integration and cloud and data analytics.

The company already employs around 900 people between Ireland and the UK.

Version 1 chief executive Tom O'Connor said:

"We've built a great place to work in Dublin that provides services across the group. So servicing customers in the UK, Ireland and increasingly across Europe.

"What we found in Ireland and in Dublin in particular is a great pool of talented people, very strong level of engagement and commitment..."

The Taoiseach will be on hand to officially announce the jobs – which will be filled over the next three years – this morning.