THE CEO of the Cork Chamber of Commerce hopes Budget 2022 will provide a ‘stable segue’ between the pandemic and an unsuppressed economy.
Speaking ahead of Budget 2022 which will be announced on Tuesday next, October 12, Conor Healy said he hopes the budget will provide a seamless transition for the economy post-Covid.
“The work of business and government in keeping the economy going has been exemplary under the circumstances. We have an outstanding vaccination rate, a stable economy relatively speaking and access to capital for infrastructural investment.
“Budget 2022 must guide us through to 2023 without either underestimating current challenges or overheating the economy,” he said.
Mr Healy who commenced his position as the Chief Executive of Cork Chamber of Commerce in February 2006 said its members have expressed a number of concerns ahead of Budget 2022.
“The main concerns of our members are housing, infrastructure, pandemic recovery supports, education, and skills investment.
“The supports put in place over the course of the pandemic have had an immense role in stabilising the economy and preserving business confidence.
“To maintain this momentum a number of further actions are required: A clear pathway for the EWSS, BRSS, and rates waiver need to be established for most impacted businesses, an extension of the reduced VAT rate for hospitality and tourism businesses until the end of 2023 and investment in education, skills, apprenticeships, and trades for an evolving workforce,” he added.
The CEO said there has not been enough movement to stimulate indigenous business growth in recent years. He wants to see this rectified in Budget 2022.
“We would fear that this may once again be addressed in a conservative manner.
“Cork Chamber is calling on the Government to place further emphasis on indigenous business to add further diversity to the national economic model. We would like to see a reduction of the Capital Gains Tax rate of 33% to 25% for non-passive investment. We want to see an increase to the lifetime limit of €1 million in qualifying capital gains under Entrepreneur Relief.
“Members also want to expand and simplify eligibility criteria for the R&D tax credit rate to medium-sized enterprises and a focus must be placed on retaining certainty and stability in the Irish corporate tax rate regime through alignment with the OECD process, as well as the development of an Action Plan for Trade.”
Mr Healy is confident Cork remains very ‘well placed’ to kick on post-Covid-19 due to the significant projects planned in both Cork city and county in a variety of sectors.
“Cork is very well placed if the projects committed to are actually delivered. There is strong consensus on issues such as mobility and housing. The NDP may not read like a shopping list but it does contain the significant projects committed to Cork. There are significant projects such as CMATS, the Docklands, the M20, and more in healthcare, education, and culture.
“I believe that any project that is clearly owned, championed, and guided through planning will be funded. Which projects can move to tender in 2022? Every project, from 200 metres of cycle lane to an interchange makes an impact.
“City regions in Ireland are set to achieve 50% growth, yet receive about 30% of funding at present, which must undoubtedly be rebalanced. The Chamber would hope that by supporting a resilient business environment the Budget can benefit citizens by cementing Cork as a place of opportunity, where careers can be built and life can be enjoyed.
“Our purpose is to champion Cork as a globally recognised place for business, innovation, and quality of life,” he added.
Mr Healy praised the government for their supports for businesses throughout the pandemic which helped save businesses and secure employment.
“It has been an immensely challenging year for many, both operationally and from a cashflow perspective for many businesses.
“While there is much common ground and shared experience, no two businesses have had the same challenges. There is no doubt that pandemic supports have been a huge player in the maintenance of employment levels and the survival of businesses.”
The CEO said that there is strong confidence amongst the members of the Cork Chamber of Commerce as they look forward with growing optimism.
“Our recent economic trends have put business confidence over 90% which means that nine out of ten businesses feel very confident in their immediate future. The feeling among our members can be considered to be as confident as it was prior to the pandemic.
“Looking to the Central Banks recent figures of a 160,000 uplift in employment settling at an unemployment rate of 5.9% which is roughly equivalent to 2018 levels, the perspective tallies neatly. If NDP projects can be delivered, there is every opportunity to hit the total figure of 2.5m in employment nationally by 2024 as set out in the Economic Recovery Plan.”