Belfast Telegraph

Super-tax plan for bankers' bonuses

Bankers are to be hit with a super-tax on bonuses as the Government tries to limit criticism over damaging social welfare cuts.

Finance Minster Brian Lenihan unveiled the 90% rate for the salary top-ups after reductions to dole payments, carers' benefits and other allowances were ratified by the Dail.

However, the measure will not apply to 40 million euro of bonuses for AIB executives which have just been revealed but date back to 2008.

The opposition branded the sudden announcement of the levy an attempt to appease vulnerable people hit hardest by the Budget 2011 welfare cuts.

Mr Lenihan said the legislation brought in on foot of the bank guarantee already prohibits the payment of any performance bonuses to senior bank executives.

"As far as the future is concerned I do propose to introduce an amendment to the Finance Bill to put this matter beyond any doubt and provide a high rate, a 90% rate of charge on any bankers' bonuses," he told the Dail. "And that should copper fasten this matter and put it beyond any doubt whatsoever."

Meanwhile, the Government was accused of making the rich even richer as payments to the unemployed, disabled, blind, carers and widowed are cut and child benefit slashed.

Fine Gael's Michael Noonan launched a scathing attack on Fianna Fail, whom he claimed were looking after their friends again.

The party's finance spokesman maintained that high-paid barristers and professionals will be better off with the new Universal Social Charge, while a mother on the minimum wage with three children will have to fork out an extra 2,600 euro. "On a day when payments to the blind, the disabled, to widows and carers and to the unemployed are being reduced, it is absolutely disgraceful that the very wealthy will gain thousands of euros from this Budget," he said.

The controversial Social Welfare Bill was later passed by 80 votes to 76 after the Government was backed by Independents Jackie Healy-Rae, Michael Lowry and Joe Behan.

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