CSO SLAMMED BY HOTELIERS FOR LACK OF DETAILED ANALYSIS OF VISITORS' PATTERNS - The president of the Irish Hotels Federation, Michael Vaughan, said that it is incredulous that a €6 billion sector of the economy, providing 11% of employment, does not have access to the required tools to adequately measure its performance on a national and regional basis. “We’ve raised our concerns with the Government already but progress has been slow to date and really misses the bigger picture,” said Mr Vaughan. “Without the necessary resources and tools for proper planning, we will continue to lack the in-depth insights that would enable us to transform the way we market Ireland both at home and abroad. Until then, we’re feeling around in the dark to a large extent.” He said that the figures for 2011 had only just become available and that they lacked any detail on the length of visitors’ stay, their reasons for visiting certain parts of the country over others or the activities and events that attract them to Ireland and the quality of their holiday experience. The Irish Examiner says the IHF claim that with better statistics they would be able to market Ireland more effectively allowing them to win more business for Ireland. There is more information available on cattle movements than tourist routes he claimed.
ECONOMY WILL GROW FASTER THAN PREDICTED, SAYS DAVY - Ireland's economy will grow at a faster rate this year than previously anticipated by the country's biggest stockbroker, boosted by rising domestic demand and increased investment spending, writes the Irish Independent. In a new forecast, Davy Stockbrokers is forecasting that the economy will expand 1.3% this year. That's much faster than the 0.9% it said last October. The report, prepared by Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille, is also predicting that the economy will grow by 2.1% in 2014 - more than four times the rate it expects to have been recorded last year. But while Davy is raising its forecasts, the rate of growth it now expects to see this year is in line with what the Central Bank predicted in January for 2013. In its quarterly economic outlook issued that month, the Central Bank actually revised down its forecast economic growth rate for 2013 to 1.3% from 1.7%. The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) also predicted in January that Ireland's gross domestic product (GDP) would rise 1.3% this year. It forecast that GDP would grow by 2.3% in 2014.
BANK OF IRELAND BUSINESS CUSTOMER CHARGES TO RISE - Bank of Ireland is ramping up its charges for business customers amid continuing losses. The bank is to increase the charges applied to international and cross-border payments, and to electronic banking services effective from March 11th, writes the Irish Times. The bank will increase the charge applied to electronic banking services, including debit and credit services used by businesses, from 6.5% per transaction to 8.5% per transaction. Business On Line same day international payments without foreign exchange will now incur a charge of €42.50 per payment, up from €25.35. Business On Line same day international payments with foreign exchange conversion will rise from €21.50 per payment to €37.50. The bank is also increasing charges on inward international transactions over €1,500 from €7.50 per transaction to €12.50.
BUFFETT SEES OPPORTUNITY IN UNCERTAINTY - Shareholders in Berkshire Hathaway hoping for a window into the future for the $250 billion conglomerate in its chairman’s annual letter found only a familiar mix of folksy reassurance, straightforward principles and mere hints of a post-Buffett future. What was clear is that 82-year-old Warren Buffett remains an optimist, writes the Financial Times. Declaring that “opportunities abound in America”, he took fellow chief executives to task for using “uncertainty” as a reason not to invest. Providing the perspective of a man who made his first stock purchase in 1942, “when the US was suffering major losses throughout the Pacific war zone”, he said that “America has faced the unknown since 1776. It’s just that sometimes people focus on the myriad of uncertainties that always exist while at other times they ignore them.” So Mr Buffett said that he and his vice-Chairman Charlie Munger would continue to invest large sums, both in the existing businesses of the conglomerate that sells everything from lollipops to jet propelled planes, as well as in stocks and large acquisitions similar to the recent $28 billion purchase of Heinz with partner 3G Capital. There were some notes of caution, however. Berkshire’s insurance “float”, the cash from premiums that it holds against future obligations, grew by $2.5 billion to $73 billion in 2012. Mr Buffett said that while he expected an increase again in 2013, he added that “further gains will be tough to achieve”.