A new social insurance model, a global tax deal and Ministers ‘ducking’ travel questions

The Government’s new Commission on Taxation and Welfare will examine the possibility of moving to a more European-style social insurance model where unemployment benefits are linked to previous PRSI contributions, reports Eoin Burke-Kennedy this morning. This kind of system would see those who have been in long-term employment entitled to a higher payment than the standard jobseeker’s allowance.

Still on tax, finance ministers from the main industrialised countries are set to discuss a deal on the reform of the global corporate tax system this weekend. Cliff Taylor writes that the ministers look certain to signal support for a deal that could see a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 per cent, above the Republic’s 12.5 per cent rate.

Veteran packaging entrepreneurs Dermot Smurfit and Michael Smurfit are back in the game after leading the takeover of a New Zealand paper mill. Joe Brennan has the details on that.

British American Tobacco (BAT), which trades in Ireland as PJ Carroll, has accused the State’s tobacco regulator of “inaction” for failing to rein in its commercial rivals over allegations that some of them are selling new products that it claims may be in breach of last year’s ban on menthol flavoured cigarettes. Mark Paul has the story.

And in his weekly Caveat column, Mark argues that the Government will duck decisions on reopening international travel for as long as it can. This comes, he writes, as many tourism operators prepare to see revenues fall off a cliff as soon as domestic business slows in September.

In related news, Barry O’Halloran reports that Aer Lingus wants to freeze workers’ pay for five years and is proposing sharp cuts in rates paid to new cabin and ground crew.

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Laura Slattery has spoken to the president of Bauer Media Audio, the new owner of Communicorp, which was previously controlled by Denis O’Brien. Paul Keenan suggests the Irish radio advertising market can reverse its fortunes over the next five years, while subscription products may also be introduced.

Joe Brennan reports meanwhile that a potential deal for Denis O’Brien’s Digicel telecoms group to sell its Pacific operations is set to drag into the second half of the year, as Covid-19 travel restrictions across the region have made it difficult for suitors to carry out site visits.

Joe also takes an in-depth look at the nursing homes sector, writing that smaller operators can only look on in envy as larger groups become a magnet for overseas care home businesses and property investors. This is happening, he writes, as demand for the accommodation provided by such facilities is only going one way. Some independent businesses have, he reports, been squeezed to the point of closing their doors.

John FitzGerald uses his weekly economics column to reflect on the Government’s move this week to reform the property tax system. He notes that a progressive property tax is a very effective tax on the wealthiest and suggests that it might be desirable to change the base to exclude mortgage debt. He also argues that more of the responsibility for local services, which will be tied to property tax revenues, should be devolved to local authorities.

In our Work section, Olive Keogh considers the idea of ‘flexible’ working, which she suggests can quickly become completely inflexible when new routines fall into place. How will we feel, for example, when we lose our personal desks?

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Finally, this week’s Wild Goose is Claire Sanida, a Longford native who has been living in Greece for almost two decades. The only Irish person in the town of Volos, she works as an educator.

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