0.2% PROPERTY TAX WOULD COME IN AT LOWER END OF EUROPEAN SCALE - It now looks likely that a property tax of at least 0.2% of property value will be introduced in next week's Budget. That would equate to €200 per €100,000 that the property is worth.

The accounting and business advisory firm, Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon, has been looking at property tax regimes across Europe. Aidan Byrne, tax partner, says a 0.2% regime would come in at the lower end of the scale and he points out that Portugal has a 0.8% tax on properties of a certain value. "This possible lower tax reflects the fact that we may have other charges like water charges or bin charges. Other countries have one fixed charge to cover all public services provided,'' he adds.

Aidan Byrne says the system will likely be self-assessment based on what people determine the market value of their property to be. However, he cautioned that the Revenue may retrospectively apply higher charges to householders if their property is later determined to have been worth more than they had assessed initially. He indicates that it might have been more appropriate to introduce a property tax when the economy was in better condition. "It's unfortunate that this issue wasn't grappled when the country was in better shape. Introducing additional taxes in the current environment will be very difficult,'' he concludes.


MORNING BRIEFS - Generic drugs manufacturer Teva has reported a 14% increase in global third quarter revenue of $5 billion. The company, however, reported a loss of $79m for the quarter compared to nearly $1 billion in profit this time last year. That was mainly down to pending patent litigation and impairment charges for research and development. Teva employs 500 people here and the company points to a notable consumer shift towards generic drugs. It has called on the Government to speed up legislation allowing generic substitution to bring down the costs of medicines here.

*** China's leading newspaper has a critical commentary about the prolonged uncertainty over the US fiscal cliff. The People's Daily accuses the States of shirking its responsibility as a superpower and putting the world economy at risk. The criticism comes in the wake of continued failure by Republicans and Democrats to reach agreement on how to avert $600 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts due at the start of next year unless agreement is reached over how to shrink the US fiscal deficit. The US is the world's second-largest buyer of Chinese exports, after Europe.

*** The fiscal cliff clearly is not having too great an impact on the US housing market which continues to show vast improvement. The housing sector has been one of the few success stories in the US in recent months. There was more evidence of that yesterday with the release of the pending home sales figure for October. Sales were up over 5%, the biggest monthly increase since May.

*** AIM-listed Botswana Diamonds has an update on exploration progress in the east of the African country. Magnetic surveys have identified a number of drillable targets which its thought could contain diamondiferous kimberlite structures. Drilling of five holes will begin in the new year.