Ibec Economic Outlook and this week's call to action
The opening months of 2021 have undoubtedly been amongst the most difficult for the Irish economy and society since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, with close to half a million people on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and large parts of the domestic economy remain closed.
However, as we publish our latest Economic Outlook report today, I believe that if the correct actions are taken by Government in the coming weeks, we can begin to look forward to the second half of the year with hope. While 2021 will not see a return to normal trading in all sectors, there is potential for daily life and commerce to take a more normal rhythm.
There is a need to reconstitute the Government’s default philosophy of “an abundance of caution” to be replaced with “appropriate caution” in restoring critical economic activity that has been suppressed. Aligned with a continuation of enhanced Government fiscal supports and an expedited rollout of vaccines, confidence can begin to return to large sections of households and business. This would underpin continued export growth, reduce the record pace of household saving, bring down unemployment and give the economic recovery a much-needed shot in the arm.
A full copy of the latest Ibec Quarterly Economic Outlook can be found below.
In relation to this week's review of the Living with Covid Plan, Ibec has set out the following:
• Provide clarity as to what vaccination progress means for greater economic activity, including a sequential easing of restrictions from April 5th.
• Provide business advance notice of being allowed re-open to allow adequate lead time for them to activate supply chains and set up properly e.g. large scale construction sites.
• Communicate the Government economic strategy with the same frequency as the weekly NPHET communications.
• Prioritise the reopening of construction and click & collect for non-essential retail.
• Commit to a phased reopening of society and the economy at intervals of no longer than three weeks.
• Implement a regional approach where COVID numbers are low to allow for economic activity to take place in those areas.
• Address international business travel needs particularly distinguishing the essential nature of the commercial related travel.
• Introduce a Digital Green Certificate for travel showing COVID related status.
• Undertake widespread national antigen testing, which along with PCR testing would be part of the toolkit to tackle who is infectious as opposed to just determining who has been infected.
• Ensure the importance of the Return to Office ambition is not lost given the scale of the workforce involved and milestones for reopening explicitly integrated into the vaccination progress plan.
As always, please get in touch if you have any comments, it is always good to hear from you.