NOONAN PROMISES ‘SOMETHING’ FOR STRUGGLING WORKERS – The Irish Times reports on a pledge by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to do “something” for struggling middle-income earners in the budget despite indications yesterday from his own department that a further €2 billion adjustment would be required to hit deficit targets next year.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Finance Committee after the publication of the Department of Finance’s latest Stability Pact Update, Mr Noonan said he intended to widen income tax bands to take more people out of the higher tax bracket as soon as the State could afford it.

He insisted easing the tax burden on hard-pressed workers was not incompatible with the planned €2 billion adjustment required to achieve the troika-agreed deficit target of 3% in 2015.

In the first update of the Government’s forecasts since the budget last October, the department increased its forecasts for economic growth and employment for this year and next, noting economic recovery was “gaining momentum”.


IRISH FIRM BOUGHT BY CAPITA FOR €100M – The Irish Independent reports that Irish software firm AMT-SYBEX is being scooped up by services giant Capita in a deal worth over €100m.

The support services firm said it is paying €100m in cash and a further €27m based on certain targets being hit by AMT.

AMT is a proprietary software business firm which focuses on mobile technology and smart data management for the utilities and transport sector.

The company was co-founded by Pearse Mee back in 1990.

It is forecasting an operating profit of €15.5m on turnover of €54m in its current financial year to January 2015.

According to the company, it manages the data of 35 million consumers and enabling mobile working for over 35,000 employees.


BOI PLEDGES €12BN IN LENDING TO SMES - Bank of Ireland has pledged to lend €12bn to SMEs over the next five years, saying it is “very much open for business”, reports The Irish Examiner.

Addressing yesterday’s sitting of the Joint Oireachtas Jobs Committee, the bank’s chief executive, Richie Boucher, stated that with its funding and restructuring plan taken care of, the key remaining issue for BoI was the generation of revenue, which, he said, meant “supporting our customers”.

Mr Boucher said the SME sector remained a key area for the bank and lies “at the heart of our strategy”.

Also addressing the meeting, Liam McLoughlin, BoI’s head of retail banking, said the bank would lend €33bn to Irish firms over the coming five years, with nearly a third of that specifically aimed at SMEs.


BRUSSELS BANKS TAXI APP UBER – The Financial Times reports that a Brussels court has issued an order banning Uber – an app that links private taxi drivers with customers.

The court argued that the app’s ‘fleet’ does not have the necessary licences to operate in the city, and said it would fine drivers €10,000 if they are caught carrying private passengers.

The decision is the latest blow for the San Francisco start-up, backed by Google and Goldman Sachs, as it tries to expand in Europe, where it has faced intense regulatory hurdles and opposition from traditional taxi lobbies.

Neelie Kroes, EU digital commissioner, said the court’s decision was “crazy” and “outrageous”.

But a spokesperson for Brussels’ transport minister, Brigitte Grouwels, defended the decision, saying the business did not comply with the rules.