Whitaker Lecture – Ireland needs new, strategic perspective on economic development

Whitaker Lecture

Ireland needs a new wider, strategic perspective on future economic development. Such an approach would ensure “a decent quality of life for the growing population who want to live and work in Ireland”, said Professor Frances Ruane delivering the seventh Central Bank Whitaker Lecture at the Central Bank Dockland Campus on Tuesday 17 October 2017.

Professor Ruane’s lecture explored the famous report authored by a team of Irish civil servants, led by TK Whitaker in 1958.

Rather than the short-termism epitomised in planning from budget to budget, Whitaker favoured policies which aimed to develop the economy incrementally over a period of years to create sustainable growth in income, employment and living standards, said Professor Ruane.

As well as efficiently-provided high-quality public services, including housing, health, education and transport, Ireland needs a planning system that ensures that our national infrastructure spend is strategic, she said.

Professor Ruane, who worked in the Central Bank in the 1970s when TK Whitaker was Governor, identified the current Programmes for Government as a roadblock to achieving a long-term focus because they contain specific immediate policy actions but often lack a clear strategic framework.

The respected economist told an invited audience, who included Governor Lane, Deputy Governors Sharon Donnery and Ed Sibley and members of the late TK Whitaker’s family, that “the absence of a clear strategic framework underpinning Programmes for Government leads to an excessive concentration on annual budgets, which in turn is reinforced by a level of media coverage that often seems disproportionate.” 

Professor Ruane added: “The new spatial policy framework and the new infrastructure programme expected in the coming months provide a unique opportunity for more joined up policy-making to secure balanced growth in the coming 60 years.

Pictured above are Governor Philip R. Lane and Professor Frances Ruane (front and centre) along with members of the Whitaker family.

Whitaker Lecture Presentation | 17 October 2017 | A Long-term Perspective on Whitaker's Economic Development | pdf 1796 KB