World Economy

Ireland Warned on Housing Issues

The government has been criticized for over-complicating  the process of funding social housing projects.
The government has been criticized for over-complicating  the process of funding social housing projects.

The National Competitiveness Council has warned of the negative consequences of the scarcity and high cost of accommodation for the economy. The accommodation issue impacts the country’s attractiveness for mobile investment and talent, the council said.

Given the urgency and scale of the challenge and the complexity of the housing market, it is important that interventions by the state are not pursued in a piecemeal fashion, it urged, RTE reported.

The government’s social housing program has been criticized for being over-complicated after it was revealed that more than 1,100 units were held up for three years because funding was not released.

According to figures from the department of housing, some 73 state-backed projects, which were lodged between 2013 and 2015, were still in the initial capital appraisal phase at the end of the second quarter of this year.

In a report on the competitiveness challenge, the NCC called for a determined effort from the government, enterprise and trade unions to ensure wage levels do not move in a manner that outstrips growth in productivity. Labor costs should not rise to such a degree that they overtake those in other comparable economies, it urged.

On Brexit, the NCC said that the impact of the UK vote to leave the European Union will be felt particularly among firms that are most embedded in the domestic economy, adding that many are small companies with low profit margins and limited room to maneuver.

It noted that the affordability of credit, particularly working capital, remained a major issue for Irish companies.

Tuesday’s report also highlights how Brexit has exposed just how Irish export markets are geographically concentrated and how the range of products and services exported has become increasingly concentrated.

“Our Brexit response requires further company-led expansion into new markets and a deepening of trade links with the world’s leading emerging economies,” the NCC said.

But the NCC said that despite intense global competition and significant challenges in the external environment, the country’s competitiveness performance is positive.

“Improved competitiveness is reflected in strong employment growth across sectors and regions. However, growth is putting upward pressure on costs and infrastructural investment is unable to keep up with the needs of this rapidly growing economy,” the report stated.

Professor Peter Clinch, chairman of the National Competitiveness Council said that as the economy continues to grow, maintaining  competitiveness is crucial as we face challenges such as Brexit. “Staying competitive will help us avoid another boom-bust cycle of fast growth followed by recession,” Clinch said.

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