Exports gloom and Budget fears sapping confidence, warns IBEC
EMPLOYERS' group IBEC says confidence in the economy is being battered by stagnation in some of Ireland's key trading partners, as well as by Budget worries at home.
IBEC, which represents thousands of Irish businesses, publishes its Business Sentiment Survey for the quarter of the year today.
The results of the survey show confidence in the overall business environment remains weak, with little change in sentiment over the past six months,
Exporters have been hit by a "softening trend," and are at their most gloomy about sales prospects since 2009.
Managers in the food and drinks sectors, as well as in IT and medical devices, are all optimistic on the sales outlook.
However, overall anticipation of exports is well down since the start of the year, thanks to the deteriorating situation in the eurozone.
On the home front, the outlook for domestic sales remains muted, the survey found.
Business owners hold out little hope of an imminent recovery in domestic demand, but the hospitality sector is seeing a rise in positive sentiment, reflecting the improved trend in hotel room occupancy rates, according to IBEC.
"The economy has stabilised, but at a low level. To get on top of our national debt and tackle the unemployment crisis, we need growth right across the economy, not just in the export sectors," according to IBEC chief economist Fergal O'Brien.
The Government needed to take decisive action to support growth and job creation in the upcoming Budget.
"The most damaging thing Government could do would be to add to the cost of employment. The private sector is the engine of the economy and it is vital that the Government does not undermine its ability to drive growth and create jobs," Mr O'Brien said.