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SFA warn of €6 billion cost of black economy, urge government action

The Small Firms Association is to meet with the Joint Oireachtas on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation tomorrow and outline measures which they believe will help tackle the issue.

THE SMALL FIRMS ASSOCIATION (SFA) is warning of the impact that Ireland’s “black economy operators” are having on the country’s economic situation.

The SFA believe that it is now worth up to €6 billion annually, with chairman AJ Noonan saying that the “leakage to the black economy” was now as high as 14 per cent of Ireland’s GDP.

“Recent seizures of contraband point to a significant increase in activity of ‘cowboy operators’,” he said, warning that this rise posed “a very serious threat to the survival of many registered tax compliant businesses.”

The SFA are due to present their current concerns to the Joint Oireachtas on Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation tomorrow, and the steps that they believe should be taken in order to curb this illegal activity, which includes:

  • The launching of an awareness campaign among consumers of the consequences of purchasing counterfeit, smuggled goods or paying cash to an illegitimate business.
  • An evaluation of the factors which influence taxpayers’ attitudes to the informal economy.
  • A clear message from government that strong measures will be taken against those that engage in criminal business behaviour.
  • A review of resource levels and increased expenditure on training for those engaged in tackling the informal economy.

“Because of reduced overheads those who operate within the informal economy have huge competitive advantages and distort the operation of a competitive labour market,” Noonan said.

The SFA is urging the Government to become committed to a solution to the growing problems that this activity creates for the small business sector.

Read: Economic activity needed to solve ‘fiscal and unemployment crisis’ – SFA >

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Paul Hyland

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