Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.44 30 Apr 2020


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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said rebuilding Ireland's economy after the COVID-19 pandemic will take time and "involve choices".

He also said things may become clearer, economically, next week as exchequer returns for April will be published.

He was speaking as Chambers Ireland research suggests 85% of businesses have closed to some degree as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

The research found many of the hardest-hit businesses expect their earnings for the year to be less than half what they were expecting.

Meanwhile, most of the 1,300 businesses in the survey said they will need at least two weeks’ notice to reopen – with a quarter requiring at least a month.

Many also warned of the high costs of implementing social distancing measures and re-stocking when health officials eventually give the green light.

On this, Minister Donohoe told Pat Kenny: "We have very large parts of our economy that have either went into a form of stasis or indeed have shut down because of where we are with COVID-19

"However what I should emphasize is what is so different to where we were in recent years - is while our economy has unfortunately changed very quickly over a short period of time, it has done that because of the public health choice that we have made as opposed to economic issues.

"And what that does mean is as we change our guidance about public health, we will be able to - over time - make positive economic changes as well."

"We have been very successful now in recent weeks in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 within communities and within the workplace.

"Both those things together do give us a foundation for rebuilding not only the public health of Ireland, but also the economy of our country - which I'm confident that we will do, even though I know it will take time to do and it will involve choices."

He says exchequer returns for April, to be published next week, will give a clearer picture.

"Next week we will get our exchequer returns published for the month of April, and they will bring us closer to understanding what is the impact of this disease on PAYE tax and also on other tax heads that are associated with consumption in our country.

"We didn't get a really clear picture of that in March, because it was looking back over a period of in which the disease had not developed in the way it now has".

"There is much to be concerned about in terms of where we are with falling tax revenue, and the need for additional public money to be spent quickly.

"I have to acknowledge that the demands on tax revenues that are going down are growing and growing.

"But while there is much to be concerned about, there's an equal amount to be confident and positive about.

"We should be acknowledging the many people who are still at work, who are creating the income and the taxes that allow that money to be spent - and secondly if I look at where we were before we moved into this crisis, the quality of our public finances, the diversity of the Irish economy, the flexibility of many employers and those who work for them I'm absolutely certain those qualities will allow our economy to be rebuilt over time".

On the COVID-19 payment and wage subsidy schemes, he said: "We cannot sustain this indefinitely - these are interventions that are costing between €200m and €400m per week.

"And what I will do now in the coming weeks... is will explain the future of a scheme like that.

"The two principles I have is number one: we cannot sustain this indefinitely - but I also know turning it off abruptly will undo much of the good work that we've put in place.

"And then secondly, to try and change it in a way that ties in with income and jobs recovering in our country".

In terms of a road map to re-opening parts of the economy, he said he hopes the Government will be able to give clarity after Friday's Cabinet meeting.


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Chambers Ireland Coronavirus Covid-19 Exchequer Returns Ireland Irish Economy Paschal Donohoe Pat Kenny Re-opening Economy Rebuilding Ireland's Economy Road Map Roadmap

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