UK supermarkets stockpiling food as Brexit deal faces make-or-break

Seen & Heard: plans for deepwater port in Meath and ESRI warn on unemployment

UK supermarkets are this weekend stockpiling food and other goods after being told by ministers that a no-deal Brexit is on the cards, according to the Sunday Times. Food producers have warned there will be shortages of vegetables for three months and emergency planners predict that no-deal would spark panic-buying on a scale that could dwarf the coronavirus crisis.

In a sign of what might be to come, lorries were backed up for three miles on the A20 outside Dover yesterday, after Calais suffered 10-mile tailbacks on Friday. Hauliers blamed the jams in Kent on "stock-building". Health ministers have told suppliers of medicines, medical devices and vaccines to stockpile six weeks' worth at secure locations in the UK. British prime minister Boris Johnson is set to take control of planning from fellow cabinet minister Michael Gove.

New port planned for Co Meath

The Sunday Business Post said a new multi-million euro deepwater port, which aims to provide additional capacity in the wake of Brexit and become a hub for renewable energy projects, is to be developed in Co Meath.

Drogheda Port Company and developer Johnny Ronan's Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) will develop the project north of Bremore Head, on the Meath coast.The scheme could represent one of the largest national infrastructure projects undertaken in Ireland in recent years, and be operational within five years. A previous proposal to develop a port in the region a decade ago never came to fruition. "Ireland's relationship with our nearest neighbour is changing fundamentally and Brexit requires us to reimagine the east-west trading environment as well as our direct infrastructure links to our EU partners," said Paul Fleming, chief executive of Drogheda Port Company.

State inquiries could rack up €107m bill

Eleven state inquiries currently under way have run up a collective bill of almost €107million, an analysis by the Sunday Times has found. Seven of them have missed several deadlines and produced no substantive reports to date. Among them is the five-year-old IBRC commission of investigation into the former Anglo Irish Bank, which has already incurred a bill of €8.7million and was given an initial reporting deadline of June 2018. The Department of the Taoiseach estimates the commission's bill for its first module, on the sale of utilities company Siteserv, will exceed €30 million.

Pepper Ireland’s buyer sees ‘bright’ future in bad loans

Link Group, the Australian-listed firm which is buying Pepper Ireland, has said the post-Covid non-performing loan (NPL) cycle across Europe means a "very bright" future for its enlarged business, according to the Sunday Independent. Pepper European Services (PES) and Link's BCM, which will combine after the deal, services NPLs or bad loans.

Earlier this year, Link agreed to acquire PES in a deal worth €200 million. It includes Pepper Ireland, which counts over 500 employees across Shannon and Dublin. At the end of last year, the Irish firm had €18 billion of assets, including 60,000 residential mortgages, some 80per cent of which were performing loans, and 10,000 commercial loan accounts.

ESRI to warn about high unemployment

The number of people out of work is unlikely to have recovered to pre-Covid levels by the end of next year, Ireland’s top economic thinktank is set to warn in a report this week, the Sunday Independent said.

According to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the unemployment rate is still expected to be in double digits by then.

“It will take some time for unemployment rates to fall to pre-Covid levels,” Kieran McQuinn, a research professor with the ESRI said.

Ireland’s unemployment rate was around 5 per cent before the pandemic hit and it hit a record high of 28 per cent in April due to lockdown restrictions. More than 600,000 people were out of work at the height of the crisis.

However, the economy overall is likely to grow for 2020 – despite the pandemic, the ESRI report will say.