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Policy issues concerning Economy

The coronavirus pandemic is arguably the greatest crisis the world has faced in living memory. It has implications for several areas of policy, not the least of which is the economy. In the latest episode of our podcast, Social Justice Matters, we talk to Dr. Tom McDonnell, co-Director of the Nevin Economic Research Institute, about the Irish government’s response to COVID-19, what else might be needed to ensure a robust recovery when this pandemic subsides, and the lessons to be learned from this crisis.

If a country is setting social, economic and environmental goals, it is important that taxation policy supports these goals. Ireland needs to have a real debate, not just about the levels of services and infrastructure it wishes to have in the coming decades, but also how these are to be financed. Just Taxation is one of the five key priority areas examined in Social Justice Matters: 2020 guide to a fairer Ireland. This report analyses ‘Just Taxation’ as one of five key priority areas required to build a fairer Ireland in an integrated and sustainable manner. 

Ireland ranks 10th out of 15 comparable EU countries in this year’s Sustainable Progress Index, commissioned by Social Justice Ireland.  The index comprises three dimensions: economy, society and environment.  Ireland is ranked 11th out of the 15 countries on the economy dimension.  On the social index, Ireland is in the middle of the ranking, in 7th place.  Ireland, however, scores last on the environment index which suggests we are facing significant challenges in meeting our environmental targets.  

The Central Statistics Office recently published the Household Finance and Consumption Survey 2018.  This is the only household survey that collects combined information on asset, income and debt levels of Irish households.  It provides us with a valuable data and insight into where wealth and assets are concentrated (both in terms of location and income deciles), and the levels of debt of Irish households. 

On Tuesday, 12th November 2019, President Michael D. Higgins hosted a seminar entitled "Rethinking Economics:  The Role of the State in Fostering a Sustaiable and Inclusive Economy".

In his opening remarks, he cautioned "the prevailing neoliberal model which features markets without regulation, distorted trade and unrestricted globalisation, the priority of the price mechanism and the practice of commodification, speculative investment, and which results in unbridled consumption, yawning inequality and destructive extraction of natural resources is unsustainable from economic, environmental and social standpoints."

The UN Climate Action Summit 2019 begins in New York today.  The purpose of the summit is for countries who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 to bring concrete, realistic and effective plans to meet 2020 targets and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent in the next ten years.  What plan does Ireland have to fully transform the economy in line with the sustainable development goals?

Behind the headline jobs numbers, trends in Ireland's labour force participation tell some interesting stories.

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The local and European elections threw up a variety of diverse issues many of which seem to be at odds with each other.  Concerns among voters about the impact of climate change and about the future of agriculture and livelihood of farmers may seem incompatible at first glance, but yet they are both very important issues to different sectors of society.  What these elections remind us is that a comprehensive policy framework is required to make progress on these issues and deliver a better future for everyone.

The Government has failed to respond adequately to our nation’s housing crisis. There are almost 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists - over half of whom are families - and 10,000 homeless, of whom 3,600 are children. This is a national emergency. The impact of homelessness and precarious housing on our nation’s children will be felt for generations to come.

The Central Bank of Ireland is currently formulating its Strategic Plan 2019-2021.  In light of the number of regulatory issues coming to light - with tracker mortgages, over-charging and access issues - it is important that this Strategic Plan focus on consumer protection and regulation of the financial sector to ensure accountability and access to essential services.  See Social Justice Ireland's submission to the Central Bank here

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