There is no doubt we are facing many uncertainties but personally I have never been more confident about the Irish economy's potential for sustainable growth. While we must avoid another economic crisis, the best way to ensure prosperity in the years ahead is to now invest ambitiously.
A partial transport network, an inadequate health infrastructure, an under-supply of quality housing, and an education system operating beyond capacity can only create long-term social problems for the country. This is bad for business. And as we have seen in other countries in recent times, social problems easily spill over into politics thereby creating even greater difficulties.
Although Ireland is in a global race for investment, we lag behind competitors when it comes to infrastructure, sustainability and the cost of doing business. Ireland remains at the very bottom of the EU league table for infrastructure spending, yet we have the EU’s fastest-growing population. This occurs at a time when borrowing costs are at an all-time low; it has never been cheaper for the Government to borrow money, or to gain access to cheap money.
It is with this in mind that Ibec dedicates this edition of Agenda to investment; a national programme of infrastructure investment targeted at tackling the many needs of a growing population, and the businesses that serve it.
We outline Ibec’s submission on the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan, in which we argue for a much greater role for the private sector. The Government should show ambition by using public private partnerships as a key delivery mechanism for infrastructure funding, over the remainder of the capital programme (2018-21).
Ibec’s position on the National Training Fund (NTF) levy is also explained here. We view as no more than a quick fix the Government’s latest proposal to plug the higher education funding gap with a 40% increase in the levy paid by employers. Ibec believes a re-direction of a relatively small proportion of corporation tax receipts to higher education investment would deliver more effective results.
Those corporation tax receipts have grown enormously in recent years, from €4.6bn in 2014 to an expected €7.7bn this year. Ibec’s view that the Government should ringfence any future gains for the one-off investment projects is also outlined here. By ringfencing sufficient funds, not only will Ireland avoid putting the country’s finances at risk, but it will also establish a clear link between growth in Ireland’s business output and the key skills and infrastructure that support that growth.
Registered directors: Anne Heraty (President), Edel Creely, Leo Crawford, Gerry Collins, Larry Murrin, John Kennedy, Danny McCoy, Liam O'Donoghue, Paraic Curtis, Kevin Toland, Brian MacCraith, Siobhan Talbot, Patrick Manley, Alastair Blair, Richie Boucher, Frank Gleeson, Cathriona Hallahan, Tony Smurfit.