Ibec’s recovery plan for the economy reads like a party manifesto, and not a manifesto of the prudent.

It's a full-throated clarion call for a supersized state to spend our way out of the Covid-19 abyss. 

Titled 'Reboot and Reimagine' it sets out, in some detail, a list of costed policy proposals across a range of industries. 

The echoes of a party manifesto may not be entirely coincidental. Ibec is clearly setting down a marker for an incoming government - when and if we eventually get one - and has ranked its proposals in terms of things to do in the "first 100 days" of a government and so on.

It makes a dutiful nod to the potential political power broker role of the Greens with many references to "low carbon investments". But its primary message will resonate with all parties: get people back to work.

And they're putting down a rather large marker. In fact, it's of the jumbo sized, permanent ink variety with which many working-and-educating from home parents are now grimly familiar.

Its proposals will leave a €15bn mark on the national debt. But, as our home school hubs continue to grow, the hope is we won't notice so much. And as our economy grows out of this crisis, the hope is the €15bn stimulus won't be noticed for long either.

Is this credible? Have we gone from arguing over how to spend €11bn of available fiscal space (remember that one from Election 2020 long, long ago...?) largely generated from surpluses in the public finances to considering how to spend €15bn on top of €5bn already spent at a time when we're heading for a budget deficit this year of €23bn?

Ibec believes the answer is yes.

In its document, it says we must "learn the lessons of the last decade and have confidence in the economy's capacity to recover and grow".

It says this must be the first crisis when we continue to invest rather than cutting back. And there's a lot more than investing.

It's also calling for short-term financial triaging of small and medium-sized companies facing mounting bills of tens of thousands of euro in taxes, rates, utilities and services even as they stand still in Covid deep freeze.

Everyone has agreed that the only immediate response to this truly unique economic threat is - as one Ibec insider put it - to ensure the fiscal rules "are out the window". 

Governments around the world have been borrowing and spending, putting in income and business supports as well as investing heavily in healthcare.

Now, the employers' group has put a figure on what it may cost Ireland to take the next step.

In fact, it's not a step, more a Great Leap Forward, as a certain Chairman once remarked.

Read more:
Ibec calls for €15bn in extra support in Covid-19 recovery plan
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