Minister Paschal Donohoe addresses Chartered Accountants Ireland members in Q&A session

Mar 06, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak could potentially slow growth to levels not seen since 2008 crash” warns Minister Donohoe at members’ Q&A session

Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe addressed an invited audience of Institute members and guests on Wednesday evening, and predicted that the Irish economy will inevitably be impacted by the global slowdown associated with the Coronavirus. The Minister said: “Many, including the OECD, outline that this outbreak has the potential to slow global growth to its lowest rate since the financial crisis just over a decade ago. To what extent, it is too early to say, but it follows that weaker growth will affect our short-term outlook and my department will update its projects in April,” he added.

NEWS BODY - 2020 Minister Paschal Donohoe addresses our members in Q&A session-min

L-R: CEO Barry Dempsey, President Conall O'Halloran and Minister Donohoe at Q & A event on Wednesday 4 March 2020

Opening the event, Institute President Conall O’Halloran welcomed Minister Donohoe again to Chartered Accountants House and described him as a supporter of Chartered Accountants Ireland, having launched the new FAE data analytics education module. The Minister’s address, ‘The Irish Economy at a Crossroads: Risks and Opportunities Ahead’ covered themes such as the potential global economic slowdown from the Coronavirus outbreak, the outgoing Government’s fiscal policy and the requirement for an exchequer surplus, and the ongoing negotiations to form a new Government.

Commenting on budgetary policy, the Minister drew attention to the relative strength of our public finances and ability to withstand the anticipated threats in the near and medium-term, having eliminated the deficit, run surpluses for the past two years, and increased capital spending two-fold since 2013.  He predicted that GDP growth would be somewhere in the region of six per cent last year when the precise figure is published today and noted that the exchequer is now running a balance of payments surplus of €2.4 billion this year (0.7% of GDP).  This surplus will provide a buffer for the expected risks to the public finances, such as an anticipated drop in Corporation Tax, de-globalisation and Brexit. 

Turning to Brexit, the Minister argued that while the post-Brexit world will present significant challenges, if managed correctly, Ireland’s reputation as an open, adaptable yet stable economy also presents opportunities. “International investors look to avoid uncertainty and instability. Therefore, establishing Ireland as a calm port in turbulent waters can only enhance our reputation as a preferred location for inward foreign investment.”

Finally, Minister Donohoe spoke about the results of the recent election. Describing himself as a political ‘centrist’, the Minister suggested that, in order to reassert itself, the Irish political centre it has to offer more than just compromise and pragmatism, in the face of competition from the extremes and to widespread disaffection and apathy.

Minister Donohoe was candid and engaging in the Q&A session that followed his address. Questions from Institute members included reflections on the recent election result, changes in pension age, sustainability and climate change, the housing crisis and Brexit.

Minister Donohoe’s remarks are available to read in full here []

Photos are available here

RTE 9 o'clock news coverage can be viewed here until 8 March 2020 (at 9 minutes into programme)

Virgin Media One news coverage can be viewed here (at 12 minutes into programme)