SIPTU has described the Government’s Medium-Term Economic Strategy published today (Tuesday, 17th December) as a reasonable diagnosis of the challenges facing the Irish economy but more detail is needed on how progress can be made. SIPTU Economist, Marie Sherlock, said: “A vision is set out of how Ireland can recover in the years to 2020, with a strong emphasis on enterprise, resolution of the debt overhang within households and the SME sector, as well as on equipping the labour force for the jobs of tomorrow. However, the strategy stops short of prescribing specific key actions in many areas.“In that context, the plans to be published by the individual government departments in the New Year will be critical. These must make the difference between general assurances on fixing the banking system and repairing the private debt crisis and actually ensuring that progress can be made in removing these obstacles to economic recovery.She added: “The Strategy recognises the need to step up infrastructural investment as a key part of the Irish economic recovery. SIPTU welcomes the commitment to a review of the capital investment framework in 2014 plus efforts to improve the volume of capital available to infrastructure development. We eagerly await the assessment of the possibility of developing a Strategic Investment Bank which is due to be completed in the first half of 2014.“Caution must be urged about the Government’s projections of economic growth in the years to 2020. In the absence of any additional Government intervention to boost economic recovery, ‘baseline’ real growth is forecast to rise at an average of 3.5% in the years to 2020. This is a rate that is well above the long-term average for the Irish economy. Unemployment is also forecast to fall to 8.1% by 2020. Given the major structural unemployment crisis and huge debt overhang that currently exists, these projections are optimistic.”