Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD addressed some key issues regarding the economic climate at a conference yesterday.
Unemployment numbers, economic growth rates and forecasts played a big part in the Minister’s speech which he delivered on the same day that the OECD published its latest report.
The report is an assessment of Ireland’s economic prospects for the upcoming year and Minister Howlin said that while the OECD outlook broadly reflects that of the Department of Finance, it is “out of line” in some respects.
While the international economic organisation expects Irish GDP to come in at zero per cent for 2011, the Government is more optimistic, saying it will grow by 0.8 per cent.
The Minister highlighted that GDP is now around 15 per cent lower than it was at its peak in mid-2007. He also said that the general government balance is now forecast to be 10 per cent of GDP this year and they expect to borrow €18bn in 2011 and €17bn in 2012 to pay for goods and services.
The unemployment rate has increased from an average of just 4.5 per cent in 2006 to 14.7 per cent in the final quarter of 2010. There are now 440,000 individuals signing on the Live Register every week and 140,000 have been signing on for over a year. Mentioning the new Job Initiative, Minister Howlin said that 21,000 training and work placement places will be available.
In his speech, Minister Howlin also said that 1,000 companies have chosen Ireland as the hub of their European networks including Facebook, eBay and Google and highlighted that a large number of multinational firms recently made announcements on new investment in Ireland.