Published: 07 December 2014
The Financial System Inquiry Final Report (November 2014) released on 7 December 2014 has called for the examination of a raft of tax breaks that he says distort borrowing including negative gearing, capital gains tax concessions and dividend imputation.
The FSI was chaired by Mr. David Murray (Pictured). Mr. Murray was a former Commonwealth Bank Chief Executive. The FSI was established by the Commonwealth Government on 20 december 2013.
Tax breaks for housing are criticised because they “tends to encourage leveraged and speculative investment” and “is a potential source of systemic risk for the financial system and the economy.”
Capital gains concessionsare criticised as a tax subsidy for the wealthy and that a reduction “would lead to a more efficient allocation of funding in the economy”.
Retaining dividend imputation is criticised because “the case for retaining dividend imputation is less clear than in the past” and suggested this could instead be replaced with a lower company tax rate. He said dividend imputation had created a “bias towards debt funding” and in particular pushed Australians and superannuation funds to invest in domestic shares.
“The benefits of dividend imputation, particularly in lowering the cost of capital, may have declined as Australia’s economy has become more open and connected to global capital markets.”
“Imputation provides little benefit to non-residents that invest in Australian corporates.”
FSI web site: http://www.fsi.gov.au On housing see pp. 116 - 117 and 277 - 281
On 8 December 2014 the Industry Super Australia commented on the issue of control inter alia:
Debate on governance must be evidence based
Industry Super Australia (ISA) supports the Murray Inquiry’s call for bipartisan agreement on the purpose of the superannuation system and the need for policy stability.
Equally, future debate on the governance of superannuation funds needs to be evidence based.
The representative trustee system is a feature of industry super funds, public sector funds and corporate funds. These funds return all profits to members, and have on average, outperformed bank-owned super funds over the past 17 years according to data published by the regulator, APRA.
David Whiteley, Chief Executive of Industry Super Australia, said:
“Industry super funds welcome a debate about how to ensure the super system acts exclusively in the interests of fund members.
“Industry super funds are run only to benefit members. On average industry super funds have consistently delivered superior investment returns to members than bank-owned super funds over the short, medium and long term.
“I am confident that the Government in considering the most appropriate governance of super funds will be reviewing the governance of bank-owned super funds. Specifically, they will want to investigate the trade-off between returns to members and dividends paid to bank shareholders.
“This conflict is the most obvious cause of tension and inefficiency in Australia’s compulsory super system.
“All the evidence points to the representative trustee system being the model that puts members’ best interests front and centre and has delivered stronger investment returns and ultimately bigger super nest eggs.”
For further information, please contact Phil Davey 0414 867 188
Customer Owned Banking Association
The Customer Owned Banking association has declared in a news release on 7 December 2014 thattThe Murray Report into Australia’s largest industry, financial services, is good news for consumers.
“The Murray Report delivers a high quality reform blueprint for the financial system that will promote competition and choice and ensure a better deal for consumers,” said Acting COBA CEO Mark Degotardi.
“The Murray recommendations on bank capital will make the entire system stronger while getting rid of anti-competitive distortions that benefit the biggest banks.
“Our sector is already by far the most strongly capitalised sector in the banking market.
“A more resilient and more competitive banking system is good news for consumers.
“We urge the major banks to stop exaggerating the impact of higher capital requirements. This is a blatant attempt to bully the government.
“If the major banks keep threatening to hit borrowers with higher interest rates, customer-owned banking institutions are only too happy to welcome new customers.
“Customer-owned banking institutions just want a fair go from the regulatory framework so we can get on with providing our brand of trusted, customer-focused financial services.
“The Murray report highlights the importance of culture in financial firms and the breakdown of trust. The customer-owned model has trust, fairness and a consumer-focus at its core.
“We are well ahead of our competitors in living the Murray Report principle that ‘to build confidence and trust in the financial system, firms need to take steps to create a culture that focuses on consumer interests.’
“We particularly welcome the Murray recommendations to improve regulator accountability and to strengthen the focus on competition by reviewing the state of competition in the sector every three years.
“Regulators and the Government need to be vigilant about the Murray Report’s warning that ‘high concentration and trends towards increasing vertical integration in some sectors of the financial system have the potential to limit the benefits of competition in the future.’
“COBA congratulates David Murray and the FSI panel on their achievement and we look forward to engaging with the Government and the regulators on the report’s recommendations.”
For more information please contact:
Daniel McDougall, Senior Manager – Media and Communication
Customer Owned Banking Association is the industry body for credit unions, building societies, mutual banks and friendly societies. See www.customerownedbanking.asn.au