Ahead of this morning’s (5 June 2020) Cabinet meeting, Chambers Ireland welcomed Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, in a digital briefing to Chief Executives and Directors of our network of 40 Chambers across the country.
The Minister briefed the Chamber Network on the economic decisions taken so far to protect incomes and to protect employers, both of whom are operating in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. The Minister also emphasised the need to target future economic interventions in a way that best supports the economy.
Speaking this morning, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,
“The value of constructive dialogue was evident in this morning’s briefing, and we thank the Minister for his time and his engagement.
Our message to Government has been consistent throughout the crisis. Unprecedented financial interventions will be required, to support the liquidity and viability of so many businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19.
Across the board, our members called on the Minister to indicate that the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme will continue beyond its initial deadline. Without this certainty, businesses cannot plan for their reopening until they know what the government will do to support them. The Scheme must also be reopened to new applicants and reformed so that it can protect jobs and ensure the resilience of the long-term needs of the economy.
Further, our members shared the Minister’s objective that public health must remain the priority of policy, but that this must be paired with a strategy for how we can meaningfully support business. The difficult task of reopening during a pandemic should not be underestimated. As we exit Phase One and look to how we manage the phased reopening of the economy, from retail, to manufacturing to tourism and hospitality, sector and region-specific interventions will be required.
Regarding the wider needs of the economy, and this will ultimately be a matter for the next Government, the priority issue for Chambers remains the need to invest in our infrastructure, in our towns and in our cities.
Government action to sustain investment through this shock will be hugely important, and as emphasised by the European Commission’s Country-Specific Recommendations for Ireland, public spending and public investment should be non-negotiable. We cannot afford another lost decade and so, public investment must be at the centre of the next Programme for Government.”