IBEC reveals its action plan for Ireland’s economic recovery

18 Jul 2012

Fergal O'Brien, chief economist; Danny McCoy, director-general; and Reetta Suonpera, senior economist, IBEC, following the publication of IBEC's 50 Ideas to Drive Growth

A new state-backed investment bank, a new social welfare smart card system and the setting up of internationally recognised property investment funds are just some of the moves that IBEC is calling for in its action plan for Ireland’s economic recovery, announced today.

The Irish Business Employers Federation (IBEC) has just announced the details of its ‘Action Plan for Recovery: 50 Ideas to Drive Growth’ plan. Among the issues addressed in the plan are a call for major reform and creative investment initiatives to support job creation, restore domestic demand and deliver better public services.

The plan is part of IBEC’s Driving Ireland’s Recovery campaign, launched earlier in the year. According to IBEC, its plan could be delivered at no net additional cost to the exchequer.

IBEC director-general Danny McCoy spoke today about the outcome from the recent EU summit. He said that while it should reduce Ireland’s sovereign debt burden and improve sustainability, to make real progress the country needs economic growth to take off.

“Exports are doing well, but we need all sectors of the economy to fire on all cylinders,” said McCoy.

He said the Government’s announcement on infrastructure projects yesterday is a “step in the right direction” but argued Ireland needs an “ambitious growth strategy” that covers the whole economy.

“Decisive action is needed to restore consumer spending, reform the labour market, and provide new funding streams to finance business start-ups and expansion. We are realists and none of the stand-alone actions we propose is a game changer. There is no simple, single solution: the Government and private sector need to take action on a wide range of fronts,” said McCoy.

IBEC’s ideas to boost Ireland’s economic recovery

Here’s a glance at some of the IBEC ideas to help Ireland’s economic recovery, as proposed from the business community.

In terms of allowing businesses and entrepreneurs to have access to credit, the action plan is calling for a new State-backed investment bank. IBEC said such a bank would be financed by the European Investment Bank and the National Pensions Reserve Fund to deliver financing through the existing banking network.

IBEC is also calling for the setting up of internationally recognised property investment funds, to facilitate international investment in the sector.

It’s also proposing an “improved tax offering” for mobile investment, to ensure we stay ahead of competitor jurisdictions, such as the UK.

On the issue of unemployment, IBEC said Ireland needs to ensure there is a structure to support people getting back to work or onto training courses, and to enforce the conditionality around unemployment assistance.

It’s also calling for an overhaul of the work visa regime to make it easier for top talent and skilled graduates to work in Ireland.

In relation to restoring domestic demand, IBEC’s action plan has made a range of proposals. These include the reform of pension rules to allow people to “unlock” and use part of their AVC and personal pension savings.

IBEC is also calling for tax incentives to encourage additional home renovation activity, as well as a new social welfare smart card system.

As for SMEs, the action plan is calling for a reform of public procurement procedures so SMEs can compete for contracts.

“The Irish economy has the potential to grow by 3-4pc per year over the next 20 years, but to achieve this we need to reform the labour market, modernise the public sector and boost investment and economic activity,” said McCoy.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic