Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Finance, Michael McGrath has said that with the increased likelihood of a hard Brexit and the introduction of WTO tariffs, Ireland’s competitiveness is now as important as ever.

Deputy McGrath made the comments after the publication of the Benchmarking Competitiveness Report from the National Competitiveness Council.

“In the past, we may have been comforted by strong trading links with the UK, but now with a changing global landscape, we can no longer ignore the risks facing us as a result of our reduced competitiveness

“Currently Ireland is ranked 23rd in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report and 18th in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.

“I believe we can and must do better. By focusing on areas such as our tax competitiveness, investing in much needed capital infrastructure projects, ensuring that our higher education system remains top class and by tackling the cost of doing business in Ireland, we can improve our global ranking.

“It is clear that, while areas of our tax system are highly attractive, there is room to improve. With our competitive 12.5% corporate tax rate under threat from the UK, the EU and the US we cannot afford to sit back and watch.

“Our marginal tax band and rate along with our CGT rates must be examined so that it remains competitive against the UK. This will be crucial if Ireland is to both retain existing businesses and attract innovative enterprises to our shores.

“It is vital we tackle head on the cost of doing business in Ireland if we are to remain competitive. For example, we have seen an explosion in insurance costs for businesses in the last number of years. This hurts business and costs jobs.

“We need to find a new model for investment in infrastructure and higher education. We clearly have a funding deficit when it comes to capital expenditure and higher education. This will prove detrimental to our competitiveness if it is allowed to continue.

“Ireland is a competitive and attractive place to do business but addressing these issues will be crucial for Irish businesses as they navigate the turbulent Brexit process”, concluded Deputy McGrath.