Ibec is calling for €15bn in funding to help businesses get back on their feet in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Employers’ group Ibec has announced a new campaign called ‘Reboot and Reimagine’, seeking €15bn in Government funding to help businesses come through the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic. The group said the huge impact that ongoing restrictions have had on Irish businesses should be seen as a chance to reset long-established practices and conduct major reforms to social welfare and support initiatives.
The group said that the €15bn reboot proposal should be secured within the first 100 days of Government formation. It has also set targets for the end of 2020 and the end of 2023. Only by this final phase, Ibec said, could a normal fiscal policy be resumed and emergency support measures gradually ended.
With a significant portion of the Irish workforce now operating from home, Ibec called for a combination of tax relief and other supports to incentivise greater levels of remote working for environmental, social and other reasons.
This includes an increase to the remote working tax allowance equivalent to €1,500 annually. This is to reduce commuting and encourage a “permanent shift” to remote working. In a survey of 550 Ibec member CEOs, 73pc identified remote working as having a major long-term impact on their businesses.
In phase two, Ibec also wants to allow employers to provide up to €2,000 in tax-free vouchers to staff – of which between €400 and €500 would be paid by the Government – to encourage spending in the local economy.
‘In times of adversity there is also opportunity’
The proposal calls for an increase of €25bn in the budget of the National Development Plan through a combination of exchequer, private and other financing.
Ibec also pointed to the possibility of writing down some debts and providing cash grants to SMEs. A new commission on taxation should also be established, it said, to address the immediate challenges brought by the pandemic and other long-term issues such as environmental taxes.
To help support the digital economy, the proposal calls for a new minister for digital affairs to prioritise cybersecurity, digital innovation and the adoption of digital education and public services. R&D grants should also be increased to 50pc to support future business growth, it added.
“We are only in the first phase of the crisis,” said Ibec CEO Danny McCoy. “While economic dislocation has been sudden, its full impact has not yet been felt and is likely to last for years. Disruption and change are unavoidable.
“Even before this crisis, Ireland was facing systemic economic and societal issues such as Brexit, climate change and a housing crisis. But history teaches us that in times of adversity there is also opportunity. In our new campaign, Reboot and Reimagine, Ibec sets out a vision and a roadmap for recovery.”