Morning business news - May 12Monday 12 May 2014 11.06
Industry and lobby groups including ISME, the Irish Exporters Association, retail group RGData, the Irish Hotels Federation and others have banded together in an attempt to revive a campaign to retrospectively ban upward only rent review clauses. The Programme for Government agreed between the coalition parties said legislation would be introduced to end upward only rent review clauses for existing commercial leases. On advice from the Attorney General in 2011, however, the then justice minister Alan Shatter said this could not be done as it would be unlikely to survive a constitutional challenge and would expose the state to potential compensation claims from affected landlords.
One of the constituent members of the coalition is the group which represents independent grocers RGData. Tara Buckley, RGData's director general, says that the group has received legal advice from other parties which says the proposed bill can not be challenged. She says the President should be allowed to decide if it needs to go to the Supreme Court. Sentator Feargal Quinn brought a bill through the Seanad and Ms Buckley calls on the Government parties to commit to their Programme of Government and bring the bill through the Dáil. Saying that the issue affects small businesses - who are the sector of the economy who can create and retain jobs - Ms Buckley explains that the average term for a European lease is three to five years. That compares to 35 years in Ireland. A lot can happen to a business in 35 years, she adds. While a lot of landlords have sat down with their tenants who have found themselves in difficulty meeting their rents and agreed new leases, Ms Buckley says that it is the landlords' interest to have tenants in situ. She says that the examinership route is not for everyone, adding that it is very expensive.
MORNING BRIEFS - Energy prices, as measured by the Bord Gáis Energy Index, fell 5% in April despite events in Ukraine during the month. More gas passes through Ukraine on its way to other countries than passes through any other international transit pipeline in the world. Worries over potential supply disruption did contribute to price spikes during the month but, overall, wholesale gas prices fell 11% in April. Weather conditions have been much better across northern Europe over the year to date than in the comparable period last year and oil and gas supplies have been firm according to John Heffernan, gas and power trader at Bord Gáis Energy.
*** It may be coming from a very low base but there were further signs of expansion in the Irish construction sector in April. The Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers Index records the fastest pace of growth in activity and new jobs in the sector for several years. The April PMI also reports confidence among construction firms is at the highest level since the survey began in 2000.