Thursday, 3 June 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Leo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
We always knew it but the pandemic has accelerated it: that the future of our economy is going to be green and is going to be digital. The world has changed in the last year or two. We have probably come on ten or 15 years in terms of the digital transformation. People who never bought things online now do. People who went to the ATM regularly have not been for months. People who never before shopped online now shop online and get deliveries as a matter of course. It has changed and it will not change back. This has consequences for post offices and for traditional banking and it has consequences for traditional bricks and mortar retail. I do not believe these things will ever go back to the way they were before. The world has moved on and people have moved on.
To assist the digital transformation there are a few things we want to do. We are investing in broadband. It is a huge contract of €3 billion. We want to get this accelerated. I announced this week that my Department will have a new €85 million digital fund to help businesses to move online and embrace digital and we have more funding for the trading online voucher and the online retail scheme, referred to by the Deputy. We will give consideration to widening access to this fund to smaller businesses. The Minister of State, Deputy English, is looking at this at the moment.