Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, this week met with political representatives for the Mid West and Kerry to discuss key investment and planning priorities for the region, along with measures needed in the upcoming budget to support the region’s future growth.
Ibec Mid West and Kerry Regional Director Mairead Crosby said, “Business will play a critical role in the future economic growth of the region. It is imperative that business takes the opportunity to liaise with policy makers in setting priorities to support business and drive development of the region. Meeting with political representatives in the Mid West and Kerry gives the business community a platform to do that and help bring the region to a new phase of growth and prosperity. Priorities in relation to connectivity, skills development and infrastructure provision must be realised, now more than ever, to mitigate the impact of Brexit and strengthen our competitive position.
“Successful businesses are central to Mid West and Kerry’s economic prospects and to the creation of a thriving regional economy. However, a prosperous business community is dependent on a strong infrastructure network. Every business in the region would welcome greater investment in our road network. The growth of inbound tourism to the region also relies heavily on accessibility.
"Investment in infrastructure is necessary to support job creation and the development of the region's economy. Businesses are being held back in their efforts to improve productivity because of congestion and lack of quality infrastructure.
"It is vital that we take decisive steps in Budget 2018 to offset the risks of Brexit. In recent Ibec analysis, the Mid West and Kerry region showed the highest exposure to a ‘hard Brexit’, with a large proportion of employment in the region situated in the most Brexit exposed sectors, such as agri-food and beverages, tourism, transport and traditional manufacturing. In order to support businesses, a multi-annual framework for funding Brexit mitigation should be put in place, targeted at supporting innovation, market diversification, upskilling and capital expenditure in equipment and machinery.
“We welcome the recent Government decision to reverse its debt reduction strategy of 45% of GDP, to allow for more capital investment. But the Government can, and must, do even more to implement long-term planning and place a sharper focus on increased infrastructure and education investment with the Exchequer funds now available. Better use must also be made of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and other non-Exchequer finance, such as from the European Investment Bank. The path towards this should begin with Budget 2018.
“Ibec is calling on Government to give key infrastructure projects the high priority they deserve and ensure the region maintains its track record as a strong performing region for foreign direct investment. Efficient delivery will be key and must be led by a comprehensive National Planning Framework. With the right infrastructure, skills supply and support in place, the region can play a significant part in addressing economic and societal imbalances.”