The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, says the NCC’s Cost of Doing Business Report provides a reminder of the need for vigilance and action on competitiveness if we are to support the strong economy and society that we all aspire to.
Minister Bruton said: “This report is a timely reminder that the just society we all aspire to depends on winning in our export markets. It is only by supporting a strong economy that all the other things we want to do, in particular in areas like homelessness, housing, and health, become possible.
“Our economic recovery in recent years has been led by the exporting parts of the economy, supported by improvements in competitiveness caused by both domestic and international factors. However, Ireland is particularly vulnerable to shocks which we don’t control. External risks at the moment include in particular Brexit, oil prices, and exchange rates. To pre-empt such threats we must create a competitive edge.
“The report of the National Competitiveness Council provides a stark reminder that those domestically-determined factors have started to pinch on business, making it more difficult for them to expand in overseas markets and create jobs. Property prices, both residential and commercial, are growing rapidly. The cost of business services, in particular insurance and legal costs, are rising at a much more rapid rate than our competitors in Europe. The cost of credit continues to act as a drag.
“While wage demands are understandable given the experiences of people over the past eight years, this is not the time for big increases outpacing productivity growth. Nor is it the time for profit-taking from business that puts pressure on living costs.
“During the Celtic Tiger we saw how a vicious circle of rising costs for business and rising cost of living leading to unsustainable increases in labour costs and public spending, ultimately eroded competitiveness and led to job losses and recession. Our aim is to create a virtuous circle, where strong economic growth and increasing employment sustains improved living standards and funds improved services, ultimately creating a fairer society.
“As we enter a precarious period for our economy and our country, the need for careful and prudent management of the economy and competitiveness has rarely been greater.”