Opening Bell: Irish economy in 'great shape', infrastructure in 'crisis', financial literacy

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Around 30% of the Government's investment in infrastructure is concentrated in the Greater Dublin Area.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) says there needs to be immediate spending on regional infrastructure or Ireland will be at a serious competitive disadvantage with an imbalanced economy.

It is calling for the percentage spend of our GDP, on things like roads, rail and water pipelines, to be increased from 2% to 4%.

Cork is fifth in terms of investment in infrastructure, despite being the second largest urban centre in Ireland.

CIF director general Tom Parlon said:

“Effectively we're facing an infrastructure crisis and we believe that we must act now.

“Every year we're delaying infrastructure investment and that's essentially pushing projects out past 2020.

“So we've had a long decade of under-investment and it's severely limiting the true potential of clusters of industry in the countryside and it's having a very negative effect on balanced economic growth.”

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Business group Ibec has revealed that our economic growth is looking impressive despite fears over Brexit.

Its quarterly Economic Outlook forecasts growth of 3.1% for 2017 and 2.8% next year.

Fergal O'Brien, director of policy and public affairs, says consumer spending and investment are key drivers:

"In many ways the Irish economy is in great shape right now. We look at all these external threats that we're facing over the coming years in terms of Brexit, in terms of policy change in the US. But the fundamentals domestically are really strong.

“Consumers are in a good place, the jobs growth really has been spectacular in recent quarters and the outlook is probably pretty good for investment and construction in the economy as well."

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An average house in Ireland now costs nearly €240,000.

MyHome.ie's report for the first quarter of 2017 shows that the annual rate of inflation has surged to 9% nationally.

Dublin houses are still the most expensive at €347,000 on average, while the average home will set you back €235,000 in Cork city and €225,000 in Galway city.

MyHome.ie managing director Angela Keegan believes we won't see a return to Celtic Tiger prices as the situation is slowly changing:

"We are seeing a lot more new builds come on the scene this year and we think more new build stock will be available as the year goes on and into 2018.

"However, at the beginning of the year we did predict that we may see double-digit growth in the capital and indeed in other cities around the country and my concern would be that that's exactly what our quarterly report is indicating."

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Only one in four people believe they're financially savvy, according to research commissioned by KBC Bank.

Another 60% said they have average levels of financial literacy. Only a quarter believe they have high levels of know-how, with most of these people earning over €60,000 per year.

Half of those surveyed also said their living costs weren't met by their income in the past year.

Young families were the most likely to struggle to pay bills.

Some of the ways people used to make ends meet included borrowing from family and friends and paying bills late.