Ibec wants action on critical infrastructure

IBEC, the group that represents Irish business, has called on the Government to show further ambition in meeting Ireland’s critical infrastructure and demographic needs.

Launching the group’s Budget 2018 submission (, Ibec said that the Government has more within its power to spend on investment in much needed infrastructure, education and training, if it so chooses.

Speaking at the launch of the submission, Ibec Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Fergal O’Brien stated: “The Irish economy is at a critical juncture. While it continues to grow strongly, we are also entering a period of uncertainty due to international external pressures from Brexit, and risks to global trade and investment.

“Domestically, we are facing chronic shortages in necessary infrastructure such as transport and housing, due to years of under investment. This is coupled with a shift in our demographics, with the population expected to grow by about one million over the next 15 years, adding to the burden on our public infrastructure.”

Ibec has identified the following key policy proposals for Budget 2018:

1. Additional fiscal space is available and must be used to increase investment. The economy is growing quickly and sustainably. Despite this, there is a serious risk that under investment in public infrastructure, coupled with strong demographic pressures, will lead to overheating if action is not taken. The 2015 GDP growth surge has afforded us a potential additional €7 billion in investment capacity between 2018 and 2021 (€400 million in 2018) if the fiscal rules are obeyed. The decision to forgo this additional space by excluding the 2015 GDP figure from fiscal space calculations would be a mistake.

2. The Budget must be Brexit proofed. Brexit leaves the Irish economy exposed, particularly the indigenous sectors most reliant on the UK market. It is vital we take decisive steps in Budget 2018 to offset such risks.

3. Focus on creating a high-skilled economy. Unemployment is falling rapidly and we expect it to average less than 6% in 2018. However, Ireland’s prime age employment to population ratio remains 29th out of 34 OECD countries, and female labour force participation remains low. In addition, skills gaps are becoming more acute. We must prioritise education and life-long training, by reforming our tax and share options systems to attract high-skilled workers, and improving childcare affordability.

4. Defend our Foreign Direct Investment model where necessary and improve it where possible.

5. Put in place proper 21st century infrastructure to make sure Ireland maintains its competitive edge.

“The Government must use the opportunity of Budget 2018 to build on the success and substance of the Irish business model, with its compelling track record of recovery from global recession to once again being Europe’s fastest growing economy,” Mr O’Brien concluded.

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