Ireland is now a wealthy country and must invest heavily in public services, IBEC chief executive Danny McCoy has told the Industrial Relations News online conference.
The 30 October conference heard from the employers’ group boss that pre-COVID, Ireland had 2.3 million people at work, yet only 350,000 public-sector workers.
The public-private ratio is out of balance, he continued.
“You are looking at the low teens as a percentage of the workforce,” he said, and public service pay is only at 10% of Ireland’s €360 billion GDP, at €36 billion.
"What we are seeing is that, as people get richer – as evidenced by the disposable income and household savings being at record levels, with €120 billion on deposit – a rich society demands better public services.
The population is also at almost 5 million, putting pressure on public resources such as education, transport and housing. The economy has become unbalance, he continued, and social dialogue must steer the country to better trade-offs.
Ireland is fortunate in that much GDP value is held in intangibles, such as data, brands, copyright and patents.
He described the move in Ireland from tangible to intangible assets as “a kind of transubstantiation”, which had given the country resources to deal with the COVID crisis
Oasis of stability
Post-Brexit, this country would be seen as a “lean oasis of stability”, while corporate taxation this year would be €14 billion.
“This is not a mirage,” he said, and the surge in resources is reflected at household level, with a doubling of disposable income in ten to 12 years, in stark comparison with Britain, which has seen its resources depleted.
Disposable income in Ireland is 50% higher than in Britain, and our COVID payment stands at €350, while the UK pays £100.
However, McCoy warned against developing “private affluence and public squalor”. This country has seen a “surge of affluence”, with many people taking three to five trips abroad per year.
However, anger at poor public services and housing shortages was shown in the election result earlier this year, he said.