Tuesday 22 October 2019

Michael Noonan hails strong economic growth as 'remarkable achievement'

Finance Minister Michael Noonan speaks to the media as new statistics showed Ireland is enjoying strong economic growth
Finance Minister Michael Noonan speaks to the media as new statistics showed Ireland is enjoying strong economic growth
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan hailed the strong economic growth
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan hailed the strong economic growth

Ireland is continuing to enjoy strong economic growth, official figures have revealed.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan declared it a "remarkable achievement" as new statistics showed businesses reversed the trend at the start of the year with both measures of performance increasing at the same pace.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), gross domestic product (GDP) - the value of all goods and services in the country - and gross national product (GNP) - what some experts say is a truer measure of the economy - were growing at 1.9% between April and June.

Mr Noonan said the economic recovery was broad based.

"Unlike in the past when activity was excessively concentrated in the construction sector we are now seeing both domestic-facing and exporting sectors performing strongly," he said.

"Our over-riding objective now is to build upon the gains we have made in recent years and secure the recovery. The Government will continue to work to ensure the benefits of economic recovery are widely distributed to families across the country and create further jobs."

The CSO report showed exports were growing by 13.6%.

Mr Noonan added: "The multinational sector is contributing but so too are Irish-owned firms.

"The competitiveness improvements we've seen in recent years are standing to us. Domestic demand is also growing strongly, with consumer spending continuing to recover.

"Today's encouraging data is mirrored in strong employment growth as well as tax receipts to end-August which increased by almost 10% over the same period last year."

Mr Noonan said the figures suggested Ireland could see its debt to GDP fall below the crucial 100% barrier by the end of this year.

Stockbrokers Davy described Ireland's economic performance as exceptionally strong.

And it estimated that GDP will see the economy expand by more than 6% this year after a revision of earlier figures showed it had grown by 6.7% on the year to the end of June.

Davy also forecast that consumer spending, which has grown 2.8% over the course of the 12 months, will be above 3% for the whole of 2015.

"These GDP growth rates are exceptionally strong. However, they are not inconsistent with the rapid growth of goods exports, industrial production, retail sales, employment and tax revenues through 2015," Davy said.

"The underlying picture is that the natural bounce back in the economy has been accentuated by the weak euro stimulating exports and low oil prices and tax cuts helping real incomes."

But business groups warned the lack of new houses being built poses a risk to continued growth.

Lobby group Ibec said the economy - the fastest growing in Europe - is enjoying a revival in fortunes similar to what was seen in the late 1990s and c hief executive Danny McCoy said Ireland's population will grow rapidly in coming years.

"Years of under-investment in infrastructure, health and education means we are unprepared to meet this demographic and economic upturn," he said.

Ian Talbot, chief executive of Chambers Ireland warned about the impact a lack of housing would have on the economy.

"A shortage of suitable residential housing has seen rising property prices and spiralling rental costs. This is quickly pushing the cost of accommodation beyond the capacity of most urban workers," he said.

"This results in higher wage demands and a difficulty in attracting key personnel to locate in Ireland."

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