The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, will today (Monday) host the National Economic Dialogue (NED) 2022, which is an integral part of the preparations for Budget 2023.
NED 2023 provides a valuable opportunity to consider how to address the challenges facing the country at this time, particularly the impact of the rising cost of living. The NED will see a range of policies across Government discussed in an open and inclusive format with representatives from community, voluntary and environmental groups, business, unions, research institutes and the academic community. Members of Cabinet and the Select Committee on Budgetary Oversight will also participate.
The aim of the NED is to foster discussion on how best to sustain and strengthen economic growth, and how to build economic resilience to deal with international shocks. Consideration will be given to the many competing economic and social priorities that exist within the limited resources that are available. The Dialogue is not intended to produce specific budget proposals or recommendations.
In order to stimulate debate on selected key issues, a number of themes have been identified, reflecting the priorities within the Programme for Government. These themes include breakout sessions on: Economic Resilience, Sustainable Spending & Wellbeing, Enterprise Policy, Climate Policy, Housing Affordability, Challenges to the Agri-Food Sector, and Labour Market Conditions.
The Dialogue will have an overarching theme of “Building Economic Resilience to deal with International Challenges.”
Speaking at the opening of the NED, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD said:
“The National Economic Dialogue provides a key forum for us to come together to discuss the economic challenges we face, the choices that present themselves, and how we can move forward.
Today, these issues are as important as ever. The outbreak of the war and its impacts on the global economy, coming so soon after the Pandemic, have made inflation a very real challenge for households and businesses in Ireland – bringing with them great concern and worry. While the Government can and will continue to help, our priority will be to balance addressing the rising cost of living against the risk of exacerbating inflationary pressures.
Today’s discussions are an important opportunity to share views on how we can achieve our shared aims in a careful and equitable way in the context of the forthcoming Budget.”
Tánaiste and Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment Leo Varadkar TD said:
Today is an opportunity for Ministers to hear a broad range of perspectives from various groups representing elements of Irish society as we prepare for Budget 2023. It’s been a tough couple of years, with more challenges and uncertainty ahead. Our objective in the Budget will be to reduce the cost of living such as childcare, healthcare and education, to put more money back in people’s pockets and help working families, middle income earners and our most vulnerable as much as we can while maintaining financial discipline. Today’s discussion will be helpful in understanding what measures should be considered.
“I am conscious though that all facets of society do not have dedicated representation in the dialogue. These include the taxpayer, the self-employed, consumers and users of public services. It’s also an opportunity to think long-term, about our economy and society and how we can manage huge, structural changes like digitalisation and the need to transition away from fossil fuels. I’ll be chairing a session on our new White Paper on Enterprise Policy, which will consider all of these matters.”
Minister for Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport Eamon Ryan TD said:
The National Economic Dialogue provides a valuable opportunity for the Government to engage with the broad range of organisations and voices that make up Irish civil society ahead of the budget. Following the recent publication of the Government’s wellbeing framework, this unique forum will assist in the design of policy that will improve our everyday quality of life.
We are living through exceptional times when global energy spikes are increasing the cost of living. While the Government can and will help provide supports to people, in particular those in greatest need, it cannot continuously chase rising fossil fuel costs. What we can do, however, is accelerate our switch, at speed and at scale, to home grown green energy systems. We can no longer be held ransom as a nation, and as individuals, to expensive fossil fuels.
At this National Economic Dialogue, we have to talk about the budget, but we also have to talk about energy security and climate action. One cannot be decoupled from the others. As we move towards decarbonising our economy, we will also move towards greater economic equity and fairness.”
Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD said:
The National Economic Dialogue is an important forum. It is an opportunity for all of us to engage in frank, open and honest discussion. Previous dialogues have made a key contribution toward shaping Government policy and I have no doubt that today’s discussions will do the same.
Cost of living challenges will undoubtedly be to the forefront of today’s discussions. The Government is acutely aware of the impacts of rising inflation across household groups and has already introduced a range of measures to help alleviate the burden on those worst affected by the price increases. Many of the drivers of inflation at present are global in nature; Government cannot prevent them, but it will continue to minimise the fall-out for those sectors least equipped to absorb the shock.
But any interventions will need to be untaken prudently, firstly to ensure they don’t exacerbate inflationary pressures, and secondly, to ensure that they allow for sustainable public finances in an ever changing interest rate environment. In a world that has become so susceptible to unforeseen shocks, it is even more important than ever that we prepare now for the risks that we know are ahead.”
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD added:
This year’s National Economic Dialogue takes place at a significant moment for our country. Having emerged in a relatively strong position from Covid-19, our economy and public finances now face renewed challenges, both at home and internationally.
The National Economic Dialogue represents an important forum for a broad range of voices in our society to be heard as we shape our responses in the context of Budget 2023 and beyond. I welcome the opportunity to engage on the range of important issues to be discussed including how we can ensure spending delivers sustainable improvements in public services and infrastructure, at a time of global economic uncertainty and increasing demands for more public spending.
As always, the resources available for Budget 2023 will be finite and we will need to ensure that those resources are used wisely, particularly in the context of the real cost of living pressures facing so many of our people at this time and the impact this is having on living standards. I look forward to the engagement that will take place at the NED and to hearing the different perspectives from a range of stakeholders.”