Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Order of Business
I support Senator Mooney's request for the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, to come to the House to have a general discussion about the employment situation and in particular the lack of regional balance in recent job announcements. Having said that, we all welcome that figures published in recent days indicate that for the first time since 2009, the jobless figure has fallen below 400,000. We now have 1.867 million people at work, an increase of nearly 34,000 over the past year. The unemployment rate has dropped from 15.1% to 13.2%.
We have had more start-ups and fewer insolvencies in the past year. Start-ups are up by 17% and failures are down by 32%. Manufacturing has hit a two-year high and consumer sentiment has risen to a six-year high.
I welcome the fact that in the past 24 hours the Minister has announced €125 million under the first development capital fund which will focus on investing in small and medium-sized enterprises, but I share the concerns expressed by Senator Feargal Quinn earlier in that the €125 million announced earlier this year or last year has not been accessed by or is difficult to access for companies. While €2 billion is being set aside in a suite of measures for investment and job creation in companies of all sizes in the coming years, we need to have a discussion on how successful companies are in accessing that money. We need to have a general discussion with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, on the Action Plan for Jobs, its updating and how we can accelerate the level of job creation. What Senator Mooney said is quite accurate in that we are beginning to have a two-tier economy whereby many of the jobs are being created in Dublin, Cork and Galway city, while in towns such as my town of Ballinasloe, where we have lost 1,000 industrial jobs during the past decade, we are seeing very little to replace those jobs.