Fianna Fáil Press Office
Dara Calleary TD
Spokesperson on Enterprise and Employment
09 January 2016
Fianna Fáil targets cost of living measures in election pitch
-State influenced prices rising while business cut costs-
Fianna Fáil is making cutting business and household costs a central part of its pre-election pitch to voters.
The party’s election manifesto will highlight that while Ireland’s competitiveness had been improving across a range of indicators over recent years the latest IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2015 showed Ireland’s ranking slip to 16th place. This is squeezing businesses and putting household budgets under pressure.
Spokesperson on Enterprise and Employment Dara Calleary stated “Amongst the high cost areas in the domestic economy are electricity prices, waste management, finance, electricity, transport and professional services.
“In simple terms business and families are suffering the effects of policy decisions by the State and a failure of regulation across the economy. This is particularly acute in the banking sector where a lack of competition is leading to higher loan costs.
“According to the most recent Costs of Doing Business in Ireland from the National Competitiveness Council “New business interest rates are 60% higher for loans up to €1 million and are 81% higher for loans above €1 million.
“Across the economy generally the rate of inflation in the year to the end of November 2014 was a modest 0.3%. But when you look more closely, you see that the highest inflation in 2015 was recorded in state-priced and state-owned sectors, such as water supply and Third Level Education.
“While most of the country is seeking to improve its price competitiveness, areas where the Government influences prices are going in the wrong direction. This is directly reducing the living standards and purchasing power of households.
Among the main price increases in 2015 were in:
· Water supply,
· Cigarettes & Tobacco,
· Third-Level Education,
· Bus & Taxi fares,
· Railway Travel,
· Postal Services,
· Private Rents
All of these are influenced very significantly by Government taxes, charges and regulations.
Fianna Fáil is committing to a wide range of measures with the intention of driving down business and customer’s costs including:
- We will require the State to legislate in response to recommendations of Competition Authority in relation to specific sectors where anti-competitive practices are taking place.
- Our banking sector cannot be allowed to rebuild its profits on above average loan costs to business. Concerted action is needed to increase competition and preventive anti-competitive practices on the part of existing players. We will commission a white paper on competition in banking and ensure that new market participants are actively sought.
- Members of regulated professions should be obliged to meet strict price transparency requirements. Professionals such as solicitors, barristers, dentists and medical doctors in practice will be required to post prices for their services (including hourly rates) on the relevant regulator’s website. All professionals should be required to provide meaningful cost estimates to prospective customers.
- Medical insurance companies will be forced to tackle waste and high costs with strong penalties for failure to do so.
- We will re-institute the successful Motor Insurance Advisory Board which led to a considerable fall in insurance costs up to 2013 to tackle rising motor insurance premia for business and commercial customers. Transparency of insurance firm profits will be improved. Legislation will be introduced to tackle false and exaggerated claims and improve driver behaviour.
- We will Increase energy efficiency grants for households and businesses.
- We will require energy companies to improve price transparency and advise customers when a discount period has ended.
- Make it easier for businesses to operate effort efficiently by improving broadband quality.
- Fianna Fáil will introduce targeted subsidies for childcare costs to help working parents.
- Investment in infrastructure, above that envisaged under the Capital Plan will reduce journey times for consumers and businesses.
Fianna Fáil Press Office: 087 9555 600