Sunday 24 June 2018

We are the price-rise champions

(Stock image)
(Stock image)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Fans of the national football team like to sing: "You'll never beat the Irish."

We have discovered to our cost that it is not necessarily true, as we will not be at the World Cup soccer extravaganza in Russia. But when it comes to the cost of living, the football chant is true. We Irish are in a league of our own.

The price of most goods and services are among the highest in the European Union.

No wonder we refer to ourselves as living in a rip-off Republic, and accuse companies from outside the State that set up here, but fail to radically cut prices, of imposing the Paddy premium.

Many multinationals regard this country as Treasure Island, such are the profits to be made.

We have the most expensive variable mortgages in the eurozone, record levels of rents, and the second highest electricity prices when you exclude taxes.

Then there are surging costs of motor insurance, commuter travel costs and petrol and diesel prices.

That is not to mention property values rising at a rate of 12pc a year, pricing many millennials out of the market.

All of this is experienced by households at a time when pay rises are anaemic, and the tax cuts in the Budget were small.

Yes, the small nature of our economy, and a low population density, means there is a high cost to providing services to people. But it is also true we have poor levels of real competition.

We also suffer from lax regulation, high taxation, while the power of vested interests ensures that householders often get very poor value for money.

So companies gouge us because they can. They know only too well that when it comes to pricing, you will always beat the Irish.

Irish Independent

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