Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Challenges to Ireland's Competitiveness: Discussion

Photo of Maurice QuinlivanMaurice Quinlivan (Limerick City, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Apologies have been received from Deputy Stanton and Senator Garret Ahearn. I welcome members participating in today's committee meeting in line with exceptional circumstances and measures we have to take due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Members and all in attendance are asked to exercise personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others from the risk of contracting Covid-19. Attendees are strongly advised to practise good hand hygiene. They will notice that every second seat has been removed in order to facilitate social distancing. I urge those attending not to move any chair from its current position. They should always maintain an appropriate level of social distancing during and after the meeting. Masks should always be worn during the meeting, except when speaking. I ask for members' full co-operation on this. Any member participating in the meeting remotely is required to participate from within the Leinster House complex only. Members will be well aware of this requirement.

Today we are considering the issue of the challenges to Ireland's competitiveness. At the end of September 2021, the chair of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council, NCPC, launched the report, Ireland's Competitive Challenge 2021. As well as immediate competitive issues that require urgent attention, the NCPC identified in the report four broad medium-term and long-term strategic challenges aimed at enhancing Ireland's competitiveness and productivity performance, including ensuring Ireland has a dynamic business environment, increases productivity growth, delivers infrastructure to meet evolving demands and implements progress, sustainability and inclusivity policies. The report also made 20 recommendations to the Government to facilitate economic recovery and improvement in the standard of living across society.

More generally, there is a broad understanding of the difficulties, including bottlenecks, difficulties in securing supplies in materials and rising prices, being experienced by many sectors at present as the economy recovers. Many members have raised these issues in recent meetings of the committee.

To assist the committee in its consideration of the challenges to Ireland's competitiveness, I welcome from the NCPC, Mr. Oliver Gilvarry, head of the NCPC secretariat, and Ms Linda Kane, economist. The chair of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council, Dr. Frances Ruane, was unable to participate in today's meeting.

I will explain some limitations to parliamentary privilege and the practice of the Houses as regards references witnesses may make to other persons in their evidence. The evidence of witnesses physically present or who give evidence from within the parliamentary precincts is protected pursuant to both the Constitution and statute by absolute privilege. Witnesses have already been advised that they may think it appropriate to take legal advice on this matter if they so wish.

Witnesses are again reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity, by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable, or otherwise engage in speech that may be regarded as damaging to the good name of the person or entity. Therefore, if their statements are potentially defamatory regarding an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative they comply with any such direction.

The Department's opening statement has been circulated to members. To commence our consideration of this matter, I now invite Mr. Gilvarry to make an opening statement on behalf of the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council.


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