Ireland Plans $4.3 Billion Plan to Revive Covid-Racked Economy

Ireland’s government unveiled a 3.5 billion euro ($4.3 billion) stimulus plan to revive its economy as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

The government will start to wind down special pandemic welfare payments for workers hit by the pandemic from September while adding additional job placements and maintaining some business supports. A temporary sales tax cut for the hospitality sector will be extended to September 2022. The government is aiming to have about 2.5 million people in work by 2024, exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

“Our core objective is to restore, and then go beyond pre-pandemic employment levels to not just rebuild, but to build back better,” Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin told reporters in Dublin. “There is enormous damage to be undone.”

Among other plans, the government will look at facilitating long term working from home and seek to go beyond Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure the country’s progress.

While GDP is an essential measure for understanding the economic resources available to a society,” it is “not the only thing which matters,” Martin said.

The measures come as Ireland tries to recover from the pandemic which has seen repeated lock-downs of the economy. The country was essentially closed down for the first four months of this year. Modified gross national income, which is seen as a better measure of the economy than GDP, shrank 4.2% last year, according to the finance ministry, and is forecast to grow 2.5% in 2021.

Including all workers receiving pandemic welfare payments, unemployment stood at 22.4% in April. The unemployment rate was 4.8% in February 2020, the last month before the pandemic hit Ireland.

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