11 Jul 2018, 10.59

Irish businesses must confront excessive costs on a range of fronts that often make running a commercial enterprise unnecessarily difficult, according to a report published today by the Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Report on the Cost of Doing Business reflects a year of fact-finding and makes dozens of recommendations for reform. The Committee began studying stakeholders’ written submissions in 2017 followed by eight months of gathering oral testimony from 30 organisations.

The report identifies and analyses six key drivers of uncompetitive costs:

  • Insurance premiums
  • Commercial rates
  • Credit and banking
  • Labour
  • Skills shortages
  • Retail crime

Committee Chair Mary Butler TD says Ireland must reduce cost pressures on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the bedrock of an economy facing the uncertainties of Brexit.

“SMEs are the most affected by the increasing cost of doing business in Ireland. Increases in their costs can threaten the viability of the business. Entrepreneurs who found and run small and medium enterprises assume all the risk and reward of the venture they undertake. Getting started and staying in business with all the associated costs can be extremely difficult,” Deputy Butler said.

The report highlights witness complaints that the Book of Quantum – a data-driven guideline on how much compensation should be paid in personal injury cases – is not observed in many judgments. It recommends:

  • Judges should provide a written explanation if they make awards in excess of Book of Quantum guidelines.
  • The Book of Quantum should be improved to incorporate proposals from the Personal Injuries Commission and the Cost of Insurance Working Group.
  • The Government should “examine the feasibility” of toughening the laws on perjury.
  • An Garda Síochána should establish an insurance fraud unit. 
  • Claimants found by courts to have made false claims should face automatic referrals for prosecution.

The report notes that Irish banks’ prevailing interest rates and account charges remain significantly higher than European norms, putting Irish businesses at a competitive disadvantage. It calls on the Central Bank of Ireland to “take an active role in overseeing the fees charged by banks for the physical handling of cash.”

As part of its consideration of reducing labour costs, the Committee recommends:

  • The Government should expand apprenticeship programmes to boost the supply of skilled workers.
  • Intreo offices should better match skills gaps and training courses on offer.
  • Work permits should be issued only in cases where the Irish labour market and training programmes have demonstrably failed to produce the skilled workers required.

The entire archive of written submissions to the Committee on the cost of doing business can be searched and read here.

The full report is available online here.

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Committee membership

Deputies

Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil

Fianna Fáil

Fine Gael

Fine Gael

Senators

Fianna Fáil

Sinn Féin

Fine Gael