Thursday, 5 May 2011
I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 20 together.
A key objective of the programme for Government is to stimulate the economy and incentivise employment growth both in the short term and the medium to long term. The programme outlines the actions which will be taken on a number of fronts to support jobs growth, including improving access to finance for enterprises; getting our cost base right; helping businesses to be more innovative and to win new markets, and developing strategies to capitalise on Ireland's potential in key sectors.
The forthcoming jobs initiative will be an important first step in delivering policy to meet the ambitions in the programme for Government and it will outline a range of measures which will be taken across Departments, including my own, to restore confidence in the economy, improve our competitiveness and facilitate job creation and retention. Following the publication of the initiative, I will continue the work in my Department, along with the enterprise agencies and my colleagues in Government, to develop a medium-term jobs programme.
We will develop policy on a number of fronts such as access to finance. In this regard, my Department is working with the Department of Finance, the Credit Review Office, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás to address access to credit issues for viable SMEs, including the commitment in the programme for Government for the introduction of a temporary, partial credit guarantee scheme. It includes a commitment to construct a €100 million microfinance start-up fund.
Getting our cost base right is another major theme. While Ireland has regained some of its cost competitiveness, the Government is committed to doing more to reduce the cost base for business in areas such as rents and energy costs. There are also opportunities for reducing red tape and tackling barriers to entry must be addressed.
There is also considerable scope to help businesses to be more innovative and to win new markets. I will evaluate a range of enterprise programmes and policies with a view to maximising their impact on job opportunities in co-operation with Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock. These programmes are focused on assisting companies to grow and export through a number of measures. I plan, along with my colleagues in Government, to develop initiatives to target particular sectors where there is great opportunity for developments such as life sciences, cloud computing, the digital gaming industry, the green economy and the international education sector.
No, the Deputy who tabled the question is not present. Normally, if the question has been tabled on behalf of a party spokesperson in another Member's name, the Chair will allow a party colleague in but, as the Deputy who tabled the question is not present, we must move on because there are many questions and some of those tabled by Members who are present may not be reached.