Dáil debates

Thursday, 5 May 2011

4:00 pm

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Sinn Fein)
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Question 14: To ask the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Innovation the number of jobs the jobs initiative will create; the time span for the creation of these jobs; the person who will oversee and monitor the effectiveness of the jobs initiative from the perspective of enterprise, jobs and innovation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10002/11]

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Minister, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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The role of Government is not to create jobs directly but to put in place the environment where businesses can prosper and generate jobs. In this context, the objective of the forthcoming jobs initiative will be to put policies in place to improve the business environment in Ireland, drive competitiveness, continue to increase our exports and restore confidence in the economy, both internationally and domestically. The jobs initiative will support the maintenance of existing jobs as well as facilitating the creation of new ones. The initiative will include a range of measures which will be taken across all Departments, including my own, to stimulate the economy and help get people back to work.

It is likely that the impact of the jobs initiative on employment will be most visible from 2012 as economic activity picks up in response to the initiative and other Government measures. The stability programme update published on 29 April foresees net employment creation of the order of 100,000 over the period from 2012 to 2015. The presentation of the jobs initiative will be just the first step in the Government's plans to bring about economic recovery and incentivise employment. Following the publication of the jobs initiative, I will continue to work, along with the enterprise agencies and my colleagues in the Government, to develop a medium-term jobs programme.

We will develop policy on a number of fronts, such as 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 such as life sciences, cloud computing, the digital gaming industry, the green economy and the international education sector. As outlined in the programme for Government, the Government will also implement a number of sectoral initiatives in areas that will create employment in the domestic economy. These include initiatives in the retail and SME sectors, ICT, agri-food, tourism, financial services, social enterprise, the green economy and education. We will introduce a new national development plan that reflects Ireland's changed economic circumstances, covering the seven-year period 2012-19.

As Minister with responsibility for enterprise, jobs and innovation, I will be monitoring closely the impact of the jobs initiative and subsequent strategies in the areas that fall under my remit.

Photo of Peadar TóibínPeadar Tóibín (Meath West, Sinn Fein)
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There is a major difference between the perspectives of each side of the floor. The Government is locked into a deflationary policy that prevents major job-creation initiatives from being undertaken. In the Nyberg report, we read about the herd mentality. There is often a homogenous way of thinking when trying to solve these problems. I urge the Government to break out of its current view if at all possible. There are ways in which governments can create jobs, including capital investment projects. In my county, schools, hospitals, rail lines and green projects need to be built. The Government could also develop projects such as the IFSC, which created a large number of jobs in recent years. Will the Government begin to initiate projects, as outlined in its manifesto prior to the election, that will actually create jobs rather than leave the task to the private sector?

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Minister, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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We certainly will. The programme for Government, as the Deputy knows, contains a commitment to develop a State infrastructural bank and the concept of NewERA, by investing in key State-owned infrastructure. We recognise there is an onus on the State to take the initiative in areas in which it can make a significant contribution.

We must be honest about the fact that at a time when we are spending 40% more than we are raising in revenue, the emphasis must be on structural reform and micro-reform as opposed to big spending programmes of the traditional sort. We will have to box clever with the money we have available rather than have big spending programmes. I admit other economies that do not have debt levels at 100% can engage in the latter with some effect. We must focus on the instruments available to us. Much of the assessment of our economy recognises that structural reforms can have the greatest impact on long-term employment sustainability. The focus of the Government's strategy is correct.