IBEC presses Government to prioritise employment in the Budget
BUSINESS lobby group IBEC has called on the Government to ensure that the forthcoming Budget does the least damage to growth and employment.
IBEC representatives told Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin they should focus on cutting spending, rather than raising taxes.
Based on its forecasts for economic growth, IBEC said a budget adjustment of €3.6bn "would be sufficient" to meet the terms of the EU/IMF bailout targets.
Inflicting greater austerity would do little to aid economic recovery or hasten Ireland's return to the international money markets, it warned.
It forecast that the Irish economy would grow by 1.4pc this year and 2.4pc in 2012.
IBEC believes that growth will slow in the latter part of this year due to weaker international conditions but that the increased competitiveness of Irish exporters means export growth will be maintained.
Ireland remained on target to outperform many of its trading partners next year and would be driven by exports once again, it predicted.
IBEC's director general Danny McCoy said that by sticking to the existing plan the Government could provide a much-needed boost to the spending plans of consumers and businesses next year.
"The economy performed better than most had expected in the first half of this year and Ireland benefited from a substantial reduction in the interest rate on EU/IMF loans," he said.
"Our international reputation has strengthened as a result and Ireland is no longer perceived as a state facing insolvency. The focus now must be on reviving the domestic economy.
"The Government must set out a growth strategy to drive the domestic recovery. There is scope in the Budget for the Government to take decisive steps to encourage more spending in the economy."