Tuesday, 10 December 2019
OECD Report on SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland: Statements
We can go back to the Official Report of the Dáil. The Minister said months. This Government may not have months to publish this. It is coming belatedly, after nine years in government and failure to produce a comprehensive strategy.
Many pre-budget submissions by ISME and SFA have called for reform of our research and development regime. The OECD report points out that between 2011 and 2015 the research and development tax credit to large firms increased by 300% but only by 14% for SMEs. I hope that whoever is in government when the next budget is being prepared will make comprehensive changes to the research and development tax credit so that it is less cumbersome for SMEs to avail of it. The action taken to introduce a pre-approval procedure is very welcome and is something that will be of benefit to SMEs.
Skills shortages are identified in financial management, IT capabilities, marketing and professional development. I am sure the Minister has read the report prepared by Mr. Jim Power on behalf of ISME which deals with the issue of introducing QQI accredited courses for people working in the SME sector. In order to incentivise people to go down that route, we must introduce tax incentives or tax credits, similar to what is available to people in the agriculture sector when they complete a green certificate. We must ensure that people working in the SME sector have the required skill sets and the only way to do that is to provide courses for them to complete.
On the issue of the LEOs, the Minister spoke about what she is doing from a regional perspective but the OECD report is clear that the current LEO model is not fit for purpose. That is not to say that the LEOs do not do great work for many small businesses but as the OECD points out, many SMEs are falling between the two stools of the LEOs and Enterprise Ireland. It identifies a gap for established firms with between ten and 249 employees that are not export driven and that gap must be addressed by the Department. I hope the Minister gets an opportunity to correct the record of the House and clarifies exactly when she will publish her strategy.