|Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, is called over to a car waiting in traffic in Galway City on Saturday, Feb 05, 2011, where he was campaigning for Fine Gael candidates.|
Irish General Election 2011: The
three main parties in the election are offering the prospects of jobs galore but
that is always the easy part.
Politicians in government are good
at making grand announcements but less impressive on the follow-through.
While we at Finfacts have said that the starting point of a credible jobs
strategy should be an unvarnished assessment of the challenges, that would be
too much to expect at election time when inconvenient truths are viewed as
What can be said, is that
sustainable job creation in the domestic and exporting sectors is mainly
dependent on economic recovery rather than government action.
Fine Gael frontbenchers Richard
Bruton and Leo Varadkar have proposed a few interesting ideas which could help
entrepreneurs, such as the feasibility of a single business tax for micro
businesses (turnover less than €75k per annum) to replace all existing taxes.
However, the proposed Asia
Strategy in the Working for Our Future(pdf) document, shows that Fine Gael shares similar delusions
with Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party.
The document says the Asia Strategy 1999-2009 was a success.
During this period, Irish goods exports to China increased fourteen-fold from
€119m in 1999 to €1.6bn in 2009.
A Fine Gael government will direct the Department of Enterprise,
Trade and Innovation to develop a new Asian Strategy for Trade from 2011-2025,
with the aim of trebling bi-lateral trade during this period.
On Asian tourism, the document says that there is also huge
potential for tourists coming from Asia to Ireland. If only 0.1% of the new
Asian middle-class visited Ireland, that would mean 2m visitors a year.
Maybe, but the key issue of
Irish-Asian trade is that it is overwhelmingly dominated by multinationals and
usually decisions on destination are not made in Ireland.
Besides, total exports to China in
2009 were 2% of Irish exports.
Fine Gael would invest €7bn from the
National Pensions Reserve Fund and the sale of State assets, in water, broadband
and energy, lowering business costs and improving competitiveness.
On youth unemployment, 45,000
placements including National Internship Programme places in private and
voluntary sectors would be provided and Second Chance Education would be
available for former retail & construction workers who did not complete their
education. There would also be new opportunities for apprentices.
Over the next four years, Fine
Gael’s Growth and Jobs Strategy will add on average 20,000 jobs each year, the
Labour on Sunday proposed the
establishment of a Strategic Investment Bank in two phases. During its initial
phase Labour's Strategic Investment Bank will act as an investment vehicle to
channel funds (approximately €2.8bn) from the National Pension Reserve Fund. It
will focus on projects that will enhance infrastructure, boost growth and
generate employment in the Irish economy. "It will channel much needed
start-up and scale up finance to the SME sector. It will be fully independent
and will follow international best practice commercial investment norms,"
Finance spokesperson Joan Burton said.
In phase two, as market conditions improve Labour's Strategic Investment Bank
will develop into a functioning bank, taking deposits and raising long term
financing. €2bn of the funds remaining in the National Pensions Reserve Fund
will be allocated as capital for the bank and Labour said it believes that it
should be an essential component of Ireland's re-structured banking system.
Fine Gael has ruled out establishing
a new bank, saying that it had dropped a similar proposal because the State now
owns or part-owns most of the Irish banks.
Minister of Finance Brian
Lenihan said: "Bank of Ireland and AIB will be in a
position to return to their correct role of supporting businesses and consumers
in this economy. The State has already given substantial support to these two
banks. As a result, we own most of the banking system. What sense does it make
for any government to set up yet another State-owned bank to compete with these
two banks for funding and customers?”
Last month, Labour announced
an enterprise policy that proposes some enhancements to Fianna
Fáil's existing policies in this area.
Fianna Fáil will publish its
manifesto today and on Sunday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin announced
an agri-food plan with the objective of increasing the value added in the
agri-food, fisheries and wood products sector by €3bn, representing a 40%
increase compared to 2008.
The plan has an export target of
€12bn for the sector, representing a 42% increase compared to the 2007-2009
The Finfacts reality check
on Jobs: Irish General Election 2011: The challenge of creating 200,000
new jobs and the media as cheerleader
Finfacts article on food,
Sept 2009: Ireland: A "smart" economy in food better than pie-in-the-sky