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Economy to grow by 6pc, Ibec predicts

BUSINESS lobby group Ibec has almost doubled its growth forecast for this year to 6.1pc on the back of positive data across the economy.

The group had originally forecast GDP growth of 3.1pc for 2014, and also hiked its projections for next year to 4.5pc from 3.9pc.

It predicted exports will grow at their fastest pace since the turn of the century and said business sentiment remains high, with companies displaying strong faith in the recovery.

Ibec economist Fergal O'Brien said the economy was recovering much faster that many had expected.


"Importantly, growth is coming from a broad range of sources, with domestic demand and trade contributing strongly," Mr O'Brien said.

"Ireland is set to be one of the world's best-performing developed economies this year," he added.

Ibec reiterated its call for income tax cuts in next week's budget, saying there was no need for any further austerity.

But it said that despite the strong growth figures, Ireland remains about 3.5pc below its peak in terms of volume levels. It said exports would grow by more than 12pc this year - the strongest growth since 2000.

There'll be similar trends in imports, which will rise 11pc, the lobby group said.

With confidence among companies remaining strong, Ibec said it expects investment growth this year and next of 14.3pc and 13.8pc respectively.

Employment numbers will return to early 2009 levels by next year, it predicted.

"Ireland is firmly on the way back and this gives the Government options on Budget day. Recent tax hikes have pushed our marginal tax rate, at 52pc, way out of line with our international competitors," Mr O'Brien said.