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Ibec calls for €15bn in extra support in Covid-19 recovery plan

The employers’ group Ibec has launched a recovery plan for the economy which calls for a future government to commit a further €15bn in supports and investments.

The plan calls for the economic and fiscal response to the Covid-19 crisis to match the scale of the downturn it will create.

It calls for debt write-offs for businesses, cash grants for social-distancing investments, extended exemptions from commercial rates and the return of the 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector.

It goes further to recommend that some of the projects in the National Development Plan should be brought forward and that an additional €25bn should be invested in transport and energy projects. 

The plan calls for a new “social dialogue” model of formal engagement between trade unions, employers and Government, an increase in third-level funding and a deep retrofit programme to upgrade the national housing stock. 

It expects the economy to shrink by over 10% this year and in response it believes the Government needs to supplement what it has already spent by an additional €15bn.

A return to what it terms “normal” fiscal policy should not begin until 2023. 

Ibec’s plan, ‘Reboot & Reimagine’, runs to 265 pages and contains a detailed and costed list of policy proposals across a range of industry sectors. 

Among the other measures is a proposal to allow employers to provide up to €2,000 to workers in the form of tax free vouchers that would be eligible to be spent in the local economy.

For those reliant on welfare, it would take the form of an additional welfare payment.

The Ibec report also contains the results of a survey of 550 CEOs of Ibec member firms. 

72% of respondents said they expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels of demand within a year of restrictions being lifted.

44% of companies said they had introduced some form of lay-offs or short-time working since containment measures were introduced.

41% have reduced production levels, while 13% have implemented pay cuts and 18% have closed their business.

82% expected a “slight” decrease in profits as a result of Covid-19 while 60% expected a “substantial” decrease. 

When asked to rank the top three supports they would hope from Government, deferred tax/rates, direct cash grants and a write-down of rates bills featured highest. 

73% of firms cited more remote working as the biggest long-term implication of Covid-19.

56% cited more flexible working and 61% cited changes to physical work spaces.

This, the report concludes, points to more virtual ways of conducting business in the future.

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