Like others, I welcome the opportunity to contribute on this debate as it is important that we discuss the economy. We do not get many opportunities to do so. Before I was elected in 2011, I was given a brief tour around a major multinational in Leixlip, Intel. I was impressed by the staff, their youth and their quality. I asked one of the managers whether the staff represented the key reason for Intel staying in Leixlip. He told me that they were an important asset, Intel could avail of certain infrastructure in the area and it had the co-operation of the IDA and Kildare County Council, but that the key factor was the settled corporation tax rate of 12.5%. Intel provides 5,000 jobs. In the subsequent four years, it invested €5 billion in the Leixlip plant. If we did not have a 12.5% rate, would that €5 billion have been invested?
Shortly after Deputy Enda Kenny became Taoiseach, he attended a meeting in Brussels. A key request made of him, particularly by the then French President, Mr. Sarkozy, was to increase our corporation tax rate because France believed that it gave us an unfair advantage. Little did we know at the time that, when analysed, France’s effective tax rate was 7.5%. Our effective rate has proven to be close to 12.4%. If research and development activity is excluded, the rate is approximately 11%. From this perspective, Intel’s €5 billion investment was based on the certainty that Ireland would maintain its 12.5% rate.
People have referred to multinationals. Deputy Catherine Murphy was with me last week when we opened an Irish multinational’s facility in Naas. One reason for its presence was the corporation tax rate. Other areas had battled for it and similarly offered incentives. I was delighted to be present for the facility’s opening. Not only were 800 young, progressive people working at the facility, earning high salaries and making PRSI and income tax contributions, but the multinational announced a further 100 people to be employed in 2016 and the future relocation of some of its other facilities to Naas. This is encouraging and is based on our strong resolve to retain our 12.5% corporation tax rate.
We must consider global corporations. I welcome the OECD’s statement that countries that make profits in countries should pay taxes in those countries. I am referring specifically to African countries. Companies that take advantage of situations in Africa should pay their fair share of tax in African countries because it is important we help developing countries back onto their feet. We must prevent economic migrants from being forced to traverse the Mediterranean Sea in flimsy boats. It should be our objective to set up a tax regime in those countries in order that they might benefit from whatever profits are generated by companies there. While we are sending some assistance in this regard, for example, through the Revenue Commissioners, I hope we can send more to help our African brethren to get the best benefit from those companies that take advantage of their situations. With our knowledge of our effective tax rate of 12.5%, we can instruct African countries in particular in how best to collect taxes from multinationals.
I support our strong stance on our corporation tax rate. It sends a clear signal of stability to foreign and Irish multinationals as well as to small Irish indigenous companies. If the Opposition were to get into power, the stability for which most companies look would disappear.