Much of Ireland’s suffering can be traced back to the uncertainty that the virus has brought into our lives. Uncertainty is itself a cost, as everything is more volatile and more complex. Fear and doubt are a heavy burden for individuals, as they are for society as a whole. When too many of us are too scared to leave our homes, to take public transport, to go into a shop, or to meet friends for coffee, our society ceases to function. How can we enjoy today, when we live in fear of what might happen tomorrow?
The economic costs of uncertainty are well-established. In an uncertain environment, households and businesses hoard cash, investors become more risk averse, and weaker demand in one part of the economy means lower incomes in another, thus perpetuating the cycle of risk and fear. In these environments there is an ever-present risk of default in the private sector which can destabilise businesses and lenders, and in a worst-case scenario, can threaten the stability of the entire financial system.
With a clear and comprehensive framework in place, we can end the uncertainty that has paralysed our lives since March 2020. The policymakers can plan ahead and allocate their resources more efficiently. Businesses can establish new relationships with suppliers, renegotiate terms with lenders and landlords, and give their staff realistic guidance on their future employment. The government has more bandwidth to manage the fallout from Brexit and to proceed with the Program for Government. The people can be confident that this will be the final round of sacrifices, and that they can begin the process of rebuilding their lives.