News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 3rd November 2015

Surge in corporate tax boosts Government’s coffers

Receipts for first 10 months €2.45bn ahead of target

      

Figures from the Department of Finance point to an exchequer deficit of €2.18 billion to October down from €8.5 billion in 2014.

An €803 million surge in corporation tax receipts in the last month puts the Government on course to exceed fiscal targets set out in the Budget only three weeks ago.

Exchequer returns for October show that the Government collected €35.05 billion in tax in the first 10 months of the year, €3.08 billion more than in the same period last year and €2.47 billion above target.

Budget 2016 last month was predicated on a year-end deficit of 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product for 2015, but the Government now anticipates the year-end deficit will come in below 2 per cent of GDP.

Figures from the Department of Finance point to an exchequer deficit of €2.18 billion to October down from €8.5 billion in 2014. Although income tax and VAT receipts were behind target in the month, the shortfalls were eclipsed by increased corporation tax payments.

The overperformance in tax returns comes amid lower overall expenditure than forecast, although there were big spending overruns in the health service and the Department of Environment.

The State received €4.75 billion in corporate taxes in the 10-month period, €1.79 billion more than in 2014 and €2.02 billion above the Department’s target. “The over-performance in the year to date is broad based and primarily relates to improved trading and some timing factors,” the Department said.

Income tax receipts reached €13.86 billion to October, a year-on-year advance of €732 million and €95 million above profile. In the month of October, however, income tax receipts were €24 million or 1.7 per cent below target “driven by an underperformance in DIRT” returns.

Similarly, VAT returns in October were €58 million or 14.7 per cent below target at €340 million. Total VAT payments in the first 10 months of the year were €10 million, €716 million higher than in 2014 and €164 million ahead of target,.

The Department noted October was a non-VAT month, saying VAT receipts in the year to date reflect improved consumer confidence and spending as seen in the advance of retail sales

Excise duties also came in behind target in October but the figures show that returns from the local property tax, stamp duty, capital gains tax and capital acquisitions tax were each ahead of target.

Current expenditure to October reached €32.49 billion, €116 million below profile. A €242 million underspend in the Department of the Agriculture relates to early EU receipts, said the Department of Finance

Net current expenditure for health was €422 million or 4.2 per cent above profile at the end of October. Such spending “is expected to continue running ahead of profile until the end of the year,” the Department said.

Total exchequer debt servicing costs at end-October were €6.45 billion, down €333 million year-on-year on when excluding a sinking fund contribution in 2014. The reduction “largely reflects” the benefit of the early loan repayments to the IMF, said the Department.,

“Interest expenditure at end-October 2015, at €6,354 million,m was €532 million or 7.7 per cent below profile. This is primarily due to lower than expected costs on 2015 bond issuance as well as the faster pace of early repayment of the full portion of IMF loans, which were subject to the higher rate of interest.

Unemployment continues to decline as Irish economy recovers

Youth unemployment rate down to 19.7% versus 20.4% in September

    

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was down from 9.4 per cent in September and from 10.6 per cent for October 2014.

The unemployment rate is continuing to fall with new figures showing it dropped to 9.3 per cent last month.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined from 9.4 per cent in September and from 10.6 per cent for October 2014.

Ireland’s jobless rate compares with a current euro zone average of 10.8 per cent.

According to the latest Central Statistics Office data, the number of people unemployed fell to 203,000 last month, down 1,900 compared to the preceding month and a decline of 24,900 versus the same month a year earlier.

The youth unemployment rate stood at 19.7 per cent for October, down from 20.4 per cent in September.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for men declined from 10.5 per cent in September to 10.3 per cent last month. For October 2014, the male unemployment rate stood at 12.1 per cent.

The unemployment rate for women was unchanged last month versus September at 8.1 per cent but declined from 8.8 per cent for the same month last year.

Alan McQuaid, chief economist with Merrion said while migration has played a role in bringing the jobless rate down from its peak of over 15 per cent during the financial crisis, there is clear evidence of a sharp rise in employment in the past couple of years.

“Labour market conditions continue to strengthen. Consecutive gains in employment have been recorded over the ten quarters to the middle of this year, with some 130,000 additional jobs created since the low-point reached in mid-2012. Furthermore, employment growth remains broad-based, with increases seen in the majority of sectors monitored by the CSO,” said Mr McQuaid.

“With the Irish economy continuing to grow strongly in 2015, an average jobless rate of 9.6 per cent is envisaged for this year down from 11.3 per cent in 2014. We now think the figure at year-end based on these latest CSO numbers will be around the 9.2 per cent level, and falling below the 9 per cent mark in 2016,” he added.

Davy forecast that unemployment could fall to as low as 8.2 per cent next year given the positive outlook for the labour market.

Business group Isme said however that the latest figures showed job creation had slowed and needed to be reinvigorated.

Meat and cancer link will not hurt Irish exports,

Says Phil Hogan

Agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan says EU’s products ‘are very best in the world’

    

EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan believes the recent WHO report on meat links to cancer was “misinterpreted”.

A controversial report putting various meat products in the same category of cancer risk as tobacco and asbestos will not impact on Irish exports, EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan has said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) research published last week provoked considerable public concern when it said red meat such as beef and lamb were “probably carcinogenic”, linking consumption to higher risks of pancreatic and prostate cancer.

However, Mr Hogan has moved to quell industry fears from the report’s fallout during a speech to the annual Irish Co-operative Organisation Society conference in Dublin on Tuesday.

“Our meat products are the very best in the world,” he said of wider-European production.

“My services and I have taken note of the recent WHO report and we do not believe it will have any meaningful impact on sales of our high-quality, traceable meat products.”

Mr Hogan limited his comments on the subject to just that, although they follow clarification from the WHO itself which said the message contained in its report had been “misinterpreted”.

Spokesman Gregory Härtl said the research was about reducing meat consumption. “We’re not saying stop eating processed meats altogether.”

New markets

Elsewhere, in a broad speech on European agriculture, Mr Hogan said the “era of quotas is over” and the future is about new markets and financial investment.

The EU is now the world’s largest trader of agri-food products with exports totalling €122 billion and imports €104 billion.

“We have had an increasingly positive trade balance since 2010 and last year we maintained our good export performance even despite the Russian ban [on imports following international sanctions imposed against it],” he said.

The market future will be shaped by an expanding global middle class, he said, whose growth in disposable income will result in significant changes to dietary patterns and demand for higher quality food.

“Opening up new markets will be a key priority in the coming years. We are optimistic about finding new markets for our products – perhaps within the EU, but also elsewhere in the world such as the Far East,” he told delegates.

Trade agreement has been secured with South Korea while talks are ongoing withVietnam and Japan; a free trade deal with the latter, Mr Hogan said, would represent “huge prospects” for the beef and grain sectors.

Next year he is to visit a number of countries on a “diplomatic offensive”, beginning with Columbia and Mexico in February.

On the issue of finance, he said: “European dairy farmers will soon be able to make use of volatility-proofed loans. The opportunity to make progress on such a tool has been one of the themes of our engagement with the European Investment Bank.

The brains of men and women are no different

   

One study claimed the hippocampus of women to be larger in relative comparison to the whole brain while another proclaimed the male brain the winner. The latest analysis discredits all those claims.

There are no significant differences in the brains of men and women, either in terms of memory or emotional responsiveness. Many other gender differences including a larger size in the male have been proven inaccurate in a new study.

The meta-analytical study undertaken by researchers at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago collated the findings from 76 studies involving more than 6,000 people to arrive at the conclusion. The study was published in the journal Neuroimage.

Examining the hippocampi in male and female brains, the study found no major difference. This is the part of the brain responsible for memory and emotion.

Earlier studies have been contradicting. While one claimed the hippocampus to be larger in women in relative comparison to the whole brain, a Cambridge study in 2014 proclaimed the male brain the winner.

“Many people believe there is such a thing as a ‘male brain’ and a ‘female brain,'” said Lise Eliot, associate professor of neuroscience at Rosalind Franklin and the study’s lead author. “But when you look beyond the popularized studies—at collections of all the data—you often find that the differences are minimal.”

Research in the past has also found that female brains are on average 8% smaller than male brains. However, there has been no proven link between size and intelligence.

The latest study also refuted any difference in the way male and female brains understand their left and right hemispheres and process language. The researchers also discredit any size variation in the corpus callosum, the nerve tissue bundle that connects the two sides of the brain to communicate.

Any gender differences between the brains are “tiny” and more the result of environmental factors, Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Aston University in Birmingham,

Are moody individuals just very good at adapting?

    

Moody individuals who ride an emotional roller-coaster may be exhibiting a natural ability to adapt to change, experts claim.

According to a new theory, moodiness helps to reinforce our responses to positive or negative environmental factors.

If an experience makes us happy, we are going to seek more of it. In contrast, we are likely to avoid something unpleasant that brings us down. From the point of view of survival, both reactions are useful.

The psychologists behind the theory cite the example of unexpected gains on the stock market improving a city trader’s mood.

That positive feeling, enhanced if the trader is a moodier person, may then lead to more risk-taking and swift adaptation to a rising market.

Writing in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, the team – led by Dr Eran Eldar, from University College London, concluded: “The ubiquity of moods and the extent of their impact on our lives tells us that, throughout the course of evolution, our moodiness must have conferred a significant competitive advantage.

“Being moody at times may be a small price to pay for the ability to adapt quickly when facing momentous environmental changes.”

At the same time, the scientists accepted that moodiness can be destructive.

For instance, a persistent negative mood might cause a person to perceive outcomes as worse than they really are, leading to a downward spiral.

Exploring the function of mood could lead to a better understanding of mood disorders, the researchers believe.

Dr Eldar added: “We think that this novel approach may help reveal what predisposes particular individuals to bipolar disorder and depression.”

Half the population of this endangered antelope has died off in a two-week period

Scientists are working to come up with an explanation for what has happened.

   

Scientists are struggling to explain why half of a particular species of antelope died off in a two-week period earlier this year.

The adult saiga antelopes, most of which reside on the plains of Kazakhstan, saw a population drop of at least 150,000.

The animal is regarded as extremely endangered and is known for its highly unusual appearance, with large protruding eyes and serrated tusks.

Its population numbers had previously undergone big dips, falling from 1.25 million in the mid-1970s to around 30,000 in 2003. The die-off this year happened in May, and scientists have been investigating since then.

Before it happened, it was estimated that there was around 250,000 to 320,000 of the animals in the world.

While it is unclear exactly what happened to cause the deaths, a number of theories have been advanced.

The Guardian is reporting that it may have been a bacteria called pasteurella that lies dormant in the throats of the animals could be to blame for the deaths – with an expert speculating that an unknown factor might have triggered its activity.

Kazakhstan activists have speculated that fuel from Russian rockets may be to blame.

It is thought that the repopulation of the animal may be difficult, as infrastructure investment in the countries it is native in has blocked a number of its migratory paths.

A UN-backed meeting at the end of last month saw an agreement between countries where the animal is native on taking measures to restore its population.

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