County Wexford Chamber welcomes today’s announcement by government of a medium-term roadmap – something which our network has been seeking for a considerable period of time.
Covid-19 means that businesses are operating under uncertainty and against considerable economic headwinds. This morning’s report “COVID-19 pandemic and SMEs revenues in Ireland”, published by the ERSI, demonstrates the disastrous circumstances which SME and Microenterprise businesses are facing out towards the years’ end.
It now seems unlikely that our economy is on the ESRI report’s optimistic trajectory. The SME sector, which employs 63% of people working in Ireland, looks like it will be having a catastrophic 2020.
It remains the case that the risks adherent to this pandemic are asymmetric, the risks associated with under-reacting to the virus far outweigh the risks of over-reacting.
Businesses need a clear strategy outlined by government so that they know what will occur during the reimposition of restrictions that many businesses are likely to experience over the winter. There cannot be room for ambiguity as a huge number of businesses will have to minimise their exposure to risks if they are to survive into the new year. If they are to know what the right decisions are to be, they will need to be certain of, and trust in, what the government’s response will be.
In addition to direct support to maintain employment through this exogenous economic shock, there is a clear case for the government to introduce a counter-cyclical and stimulatory budget next month.
There is an existing shortfall in infrastructure which needs to be made good – the demands of the Green Transition will necessitate the revitalisation of our urban areas, the modernisation and expansion of our transport networks, and the reinforcement of our energy grid. This budget must aim to close that gap.
Over the coming decade, these works will need to be done regardless. It makes sense to carry them out now when interest rates are negative and there is likely to be excess capacity in our construction sector for years to come.”