CHALLENGES to Limerick’s growth, including a shortage of suitable urban accommodation and inefficient public transport, will be addressed at a breakfast briefing organised by Limerick Chamber and sponsored by the Limerick Post in the Castletroy Park Hotel next week.
Economist Dr Catríona Cahill, who is one of the main speakers at the briefing on Monday, February 11, says that while Limerick retains a competitive advantage on several fronts, its growth potential is being hindered by inefficient national policies in strategically important areas including aviation, marine and telecommunications infrastructure.
“Yet, despite the challenges, Limerick was ranked the fourth most affordable place to buy a home in a survey of 293 cities and it has been internationally recognised for its business friendliness and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) strategy,” she said.
“The Irish economy has gone from strength to strength in the last four years. This trend looks set to continue with the European Commission projecting growth in Irish GDP of 4.5 per cent in 2019.”
In the midst of this good news story there is evidence that Ireland’s competitiveness is coming under increasing pressure. A country’s competitiveness is measured by several factors including infrastructure, health, education, labour market efficiency and innovation.
In 2017, Ireland dropped from 6th to 12th place on the Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Competitiveness rankings and from 23rd to 24th place on the World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report. This deterioration is largely due to external factors such as uncertainty surrounding Brexit, exchange rate volatility and changes in international trading policies. Ireland’s economy is largely dependent on a small number of international firms operating in a select number of industries.
This places us in a vulnerable position where our domestic growth is tied to the fortunes of the global economy. As such, the importance of FDI should not be underestimated.
There is not much that can be done domestically to address the unpredictability surrounding the global tax landscape or Brexit, however, there are some factors that can be influenced at a national or even regional level. In its competitiveness ranking Ireland scored poorly in term of infrastructure. An increased infrastructure spend has been promised under the National Development Plan (NDP) and while Limerick is set to benefit from several projects including the M20 upgrade, the Northern Distributor Road and the revitalisation of the city centre, further commitment is needed.
The NDP underpins the National Planning Framework (NPF) which aims to promote a 50:50 distribution of growth between the five major cities and the rest of the country by 2040. If this ambitious target is to be achieved investment must be delivered in a timely, cohesive and transparent fashion,” she concluded.
Other speakers at the breakfast briefing on February 11 are UL lecturer Dr Stephen Kinsella and Northern Trust chief economist Carl Tannenbaum.