Ideas for fixing the Irish economy

You’re in Cowens & Lenihans shoes. What would your economic strategy be?

Some ideas

  1. Pass the Lisbon treaty no matter what it takes. We need our friends and markets
  2. Eliminate market distorting property incentives but increase infrastructural spend
  3. Appoint a group of technocrats chaired by someone like Ed Walsh to implement the fabled “knowledge economy”. Give them a large budget and political backing
  4. Agree a joint program with FG (and Labour if possible) to implement public sector reform. Efficiency, value for money and the loss of the jobs for life mentality.
  5. It’s unacceptable to be paying people to do nothing. Unemployment should only be paid if attending training or if taking part in community service.
  6. A national program to give 15/16 year olds 3 months experience working somewhere.
  7. All those construction workers have to work somewhere. Investment in rural tourism, walkers, anglers, upgrade the B&B network.
  8. Investment in agricultural science. Why are our yields so poor in comparison to other countries?
  9. Broadband broadband broadband. We’ve spent long enough talking about it.
  10. Political reform. Cut the number of TDs by half, eliminate the Senate.
  11. Eliminate planning decisions from councils and help get rid of the estate agents and auctioneers who are voted in. Devolve money and duties from central to local government.
  12. Encourage local government to compete for investment. Remove 10c from income tax rate and allow tax to be levied at local level. Let local governments decide what the priorities are.
  13. Every quango and regulator to be the subject of a cost benefit analysis
  14. Reduce the rate of corporation tax to zero and compensate by raising a property tax.
  15. A government backed venture capital fund for seeding new exporting enterprises - an Enterprise Ireland for startups essentially.
  16. Increased social welfare benefits for the self employed. Essentially I want people to be able to start a business and have a safety net should they fail.

wiping the slate clean with the whole political system would be a start.

policing the fuck out of profiteering and corruption in all area’s. especially construction and politics.

privitise the civil service

feed bertie to the dogs…

Actually, it is all bert’s fault. corruption is a cancer. i’d like to see him publicly hung drawn and quartered.


(my head is exploding…ooggghhhhhh, where to start)

Cut, cut, cut!

The mentality of Brendan O’Connor et al will be to borrow and spend ourselves out of this recession.

Such a pig headed mentality got us into the mess of the the late 1970s and early 1980s.

We are living well beyond our means at present.

Good ideas. As to the point number 10 imagine the stink that it will generate. :open_mouth: Many people who voted no to lisbon cited the loss of the commisioner as the main reason. So what happens when upstanding citizens of this country loose their weekly “clinics”? And where do you start “halving” them? Eliminate the Senate? :laughing: Never going to happen.

Given the high cost of Irish land relative to land in other european countries, I propose we sell Ireland, and buy somewhere with a better climate.


Disagree. Voting no won’t make a jot of difference to what markets we have access to.

A bit late really, most of the property incentives are coming to the end. Doubt the cash we’d save from shelving the last few would make a difference to infrastructure.

Sounds like a quango . . .

Agree with you on this. Public sector needs taking down a peg.

Don’t know about that. Think it would be more useful to give more points to people doing science/maths.

Not a bad idea.

I don’t know about this to be honest. The numbers in agricultural colleges are booming, a lot of which is subsidy generated. Maybe tax relief for capital expenditure in agriculture would be a better idea.



Agree on the first part. Not so sure about the second.

Again, not sure about giving power to the councils. Too much gombeenism in local Irish politics.


Not sure I like the idea of the government being in control of that. . .

No arguments there.

One thing we can’t do is abandon the large chunk of the country where there are no jobs but construction. Neither can we afford to try and keep a bubble propped up for a few years. Neither again can we pay the CIF a bribe to provide construction social welfare where they pocket the profit. What we need to do is work to build employment alternatives in rural areas, but in the meantime use infrastructural spending to tide workers over while emphasising that this short term in nature (less than 5 years) and they need to find alternative employment. The Radharc (I think) program recently showed that these people were as much victims as FTBs, as their politicians allowed them to be sucked into investing their futures in construction and an unsustainable bubble. What do we do with all those 21 year olds who left school at 15 because they thought that becoming a brickie was where their future was?

Nope. Can’t think of a single thing. Maybe torture Bertie Ahern til he tells us where all the money is.

Housebuyer, I notice you didn’t venture an opinion on 14! In any case, I would be against a property tax unless is was levied on unused property. Property taxes weigh disproportionately on the lower middle classes - those who work but don’t have much. The poor end up not paying them, the rich are never taxed proportionately.

The impact of Lisbon will, IMO, depend on whether anyone else rejects it.

I would introduce tax free investment bonds that pay an inflation linked return. These would be accessible at zero cost to all pension schemes and would be state backed. I would part-fund all infrastructure development this way.

Just some comments on some of your ideas.

  1. It’s dangerous to append “no matter what” to something you have to do. It means concessions you might regret later. Lisbon should be passed but it is going to be a fine rope to walk to get there.

  2. Property supports should be in favour of the buyer. I think the beauty was the removal of stamp duty support for new developments for FTBs which opened up the secondhand market to FTBs big time. A support which unduly supports the supply side is unwise.

3 and 13 - we have a habit of setting up things half assed in this country, Various tribunals are an example. I think that while we need an authority to sort out the implementation of an knowledge economy, it needs to be recognised that all sorts of areas have an interest here - education/transport/infrastructure/communications. My worry with this is that a simplistic approach will be taken and then, we wind up with different sides pulling against each other. Political backing is all very well but the issues in Ireland tend to be practical and financial.

  1. Public sector reform cannot be implemented without some sort of a vision of what is required. An example of a fiasco in this respect was the reform of the health service. Most people would suggest that the modus operandi of the HSE is horrific and does not merit even being considered an improvement over the old health boards. “We need to reform public sector” - how. Much is made of how much it costs but it seems to me we don’t want to pay for a decent public sector - this is obvious from complaints about the easy life they have - and we make it unattractive for go getters to go in there because of that attitude.

  2. It is unacceptable to be paying people to do nothing, this is true. However, if unemployment is rising, your hands may well be tied. Why are people out of work? If you’ve 17% unemployment, how do you expect people to live? I often see this as an easy target. What you need to do is address career social welfare. Yours is a simplistic approach.

  3. Work experience is not the issue. The problem in IReland is the attitude of teenagers to education. It is commonly horrific. What might be more interesting is workplacement visits. I happened to have a tour of a major manufacturing facility at the weekend. It was fascinating. I think stuff like that could be far more productive than generic three months work experience in the local Spar which frankly is the most likely outcome of your idea without ten thousand conditions being applied to it.

  1. Investment in tourism is ongoing and by and large, certainly in my experience, the issue relating to the B&B network is not quality but price. This however seems to be changing. We could do with better tour guides however and being brutally honest, we don’t pay them enough. Certainly a construction worker on 55K a year for the last five years isn’t going to want to work in the hospitality industry at 25K a year.

8) Agreed. But would also add that we need to invest very heavily in other areas of research and in manufacturing. We need export industries. The old hands in the IDA knew this. That’s why we got the profile of FDI that we did.

  1. this will only happen if we nationalise a telco. We may have to do that.

10 and 11. Political reform is necessary but it also requires a monumental re-education of a disenfranchised society. Planning legislation needs to be reformed - this is more an issue than local authority control. I’m of the opinion that a certain number of items need to be localised rather than centralised and to do that, I would suggest that three regional elected authorities be set up to handle health, education and transport. Local taxation needs to be addressed and local authority financing needs to be looked at.

In terms of the number of TDs, I would suggest that we cut it by roughly 30%. I think a second chamber is desirable however the method by which members are selected for that chamber needs to be re-examined.

13 - agreed. This should be par for the course

14 - property tax should be levied on non PPRs and non-inhabited investment property.

In general, I think we need a vision of the future, along with a plan of how to get there. As this tends to involve long term planning, few political parties have the guts to do it.

If I had some option on running the country, I would look at gaps in certain areas, such as financial regulation, compliance and whether things are being done for the benefit of service providers or customers (eg transport).

We need to de-topheavy-ify the population so I would up investment in infrastructure to Limerick, Cork, Galway and probably Waterford (maybe Sligo but not so sure) and endeavour to get more FDI into those areas. The objective of that would be to reduce the pressure on the Liffey basin in terms of sheer weight of numbers, infrastructure deficits and reduce the necessity for so many people to have to commute, or relocate to one main location.

The Public Accounts Committee is generally okay but needs to be more visible in terms of assessing how our money is spent.

HSE to be broken up into three regional health authorities.

We need to look at upping our exports, both visible and invisible. Failte Ireland are okay but I would suggest not as accountable as they could be. Tourism is not going to save our skin either because it’s not peopled with alot of high value jobs.

Some social changes are required as well. We have a warped way of looking at reality - so there’s a certain amount of snobbery towards people who do very essential jobs, without which our economy cannot function (my favourite is refuse collection). Our education system needs to be overhauled and become more skills/ability oriented. We need to lose this situation where we wind up with a load of very bright but not very suitable to the role doctors and lawyers.

all by way of an example. I am now hungry.

All that on an empty stomach?!!
Do we get another installment after dinner? :wink:

Oops, forgot the most important point!

I agree with you completely yoganmahew. Not all people with expensive properties are rich. A person with a E1 million house could easily be living on minimum wage, if you were to levy a 1% property tax, that would be half their yearly income. Absolutely though, we need a property tax on investment properties. We’d never see it happen though, it would be political suicide.

I disagree in principle. A healthy economy needs a healthy rental sector. We don’t have it because we have a large number of small timers. For investment property I would recommend a sliding scale so that small timers are discouraged from getting involved in the property market. So what I propose is a scale whereby the more property you have rented out occupied, the less tax you pay proportionately. This would a) discourage smalltimers and b) encourage compliance. For each property unoccupied for more than 2 months in a year, the tax should start to rise. Again, the objective is to reduce property hoarding.

PPRs should be exempt from tax. Holiday homes anywhere in the world including Cape Verde and Bulgaria, on the other hand, should not be.

I spend far too much time here instead of playing with Photoshop :frowning:

Its too late to fix the economy, we just have to weather the storm now. But there are so many things a government could do to improve our nation.

  1. Change half the oireacteas to nationally elected seats. Nationally important issues are not represented adequatly because TDs represent their constituency and are not interested in national issues, like transport, crime, inflation, fathers rights, gay rights, education etc.

  2. Reduce income tax and increase taxes on other activities. For example put a tax on advertising. If a company wants to brainwash people then make them pay a tax for that privilege. Tax entertainment services like cable TV subscriptions.

  3. Outsource as many parts of the civil service as possible. The Motor Tax Office could be done more efficiently by a private sector operator. Dont outsource regulatory or compliance functions.

  4. Give people ownership of their PRSI contributions. They should be held in SSIA style accounts.

  5. Finish all motorways and bypass all towns with national primary routes running through them. If they have to be funded with tolls then thats ok, but toll operators should have a contract banning them ever raising the toll.

You mean like enterprise ireland?

Here’s an idea, why not just give the money to the HPSU (High potential start-ups) instead, and scrap enterprise ireland and associated quangos. The system we currently have is utter shit.

Ban internet forums??? :question:

Ban public sector workers from using the internet at work at taxpayers expense.

Ban Stingy Buyer??? There’s a possibility and oh look, it’s 22:57 in the fucking evening… :unamused:

Stingy Buyer is well used to bannings. Theyre part of the terrain. The Stingy Buyer brand is getting old anyway. Hes thinking of a rebranding excercise, new username, new avatar, new fundamental brand proposition etc.

A new username thats even meaner, leaner, stingier, like “MeanTightBastard” with signature “Pay for your own pension you feckless wastrel”.