Irish CEO positivity dips as Brexit concerns deepen

Up to 58 per cent of Irish chief executives have a positive outlook on the economy but concerns around Brexit and high personal tax burdens has seen that number fall in compason to last year.

A survey from professional services firm PwC shows that although a majority of Irish chief executives view the economy in a favourable manner, that has dropped by 13 per cent from 71 per cent in 2016. Additionally, the number of chief executives that are confident about their businesses future prospects has dropped, albeit less significantly, from 76 per cent in 2015 to 66 per cent this year.

The ‘2017 Irish CEO Pulse Survey’ shows that uncertainty is having an impact on Irish businesses. Aside from geopolitical risks and high personal tax burdens, rising wage costs and cyber threats cause concern for over 86 per cent of chief executives. The concern around the lack of affordable housing and office space is also heightening with 84 per cent reporting worries in that area.

“It is positive to note that, despite the uncertainties, the majority of Irish CEOs are continuing to plan for growth in their businesses. There is no doubt, however, that Brexit is a key concern for policy makers and business leaders. This Government is doing everything possible to respond strongly to the impacts of Brexit by working with international and local stakeholders to provide supports to business and safeguard Irish jobs in every part of the country,” said Frances Fitzgerald, Tánaiste and minister for Enterprise and Innovation.

Feargal O’Rourke, managing partner of PwC Ireland, said: “Uncertainty also brings opportunity, and many Irish CEOs do see opportunities arising. Not surprisingly there is a strong focus on export markets. Overall, in weighing up the opportunities and uncertainties, CEOs are slightly more cautious in their outlook with a consequent impact on the pace of investment decisions.”

The survey, carried out earlier this year among over 200 Irish chief executives, shows that nearly two-thirds of those canvassed believe that in an increasingly digitised world it’s harder for business to establish and maintain trust.

Meanwhile, a survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of BT showed that just 42 per cent of Irish business leaders saw digital transformation as a top priority.

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