Richard Bruton (c), enterprise minister, with Martin Shanahan, chief executive, Fórfas, and Yves Leterme, deputy secretary general of the OECD. Photograph: Shane O’Neill/ Fennells |
Ireland's Action Plan for Jobs framework of quarterly improvement targets in
various areas of policy and implementation have got general approval from the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) but
[pdf] commissioned by the Government for public relations purposes, that uses
some key data that is distorted by tax avoidance, is misunderstood by the
The issue of long-term and youth unemployment,
and public activation programmes was covered last September in the OECD's
Economic Survey of Ireland and the think-tank for 34 mainly developed country
empirically-proven policies and sunset clauses in enterprise and innovation
supports but there is no experience of this in the Irish system. It said the
number of programmes and agencies multiplied during the period of booming
growth. "There are now over 170 separate budget lines, sometimes for very small
amounts of money, and 11 major funding agencies involved in disbursing the
Science Budget, although it is small by international standards."
limited fiscal resources on policies empirically-proven to improve
employability; this will require systematic evaluation of labour-market
programmes through consistent tracking and randomised trials, followed by
decisions to close down ineffective schemes while strengthening successful
Reflecting significant uncertainties about the effectiveness
of various innovation policy tools, independently and regularly evaluate all
actions in this area, strengthen programmes with proven higher returns, and
wind down the others. To promote effective evaluation, ensure all innovation
and enterprise supports have sunset clauses."
In its current report, the OECD called for a
“more sustainable, market-based funding alternatives should be explored - - such
as SME loan securitisation (including covered bonds) and mezzanine (hybrid
debt/equity) financing instruments.”
The study says that access to non-bank financing
has deteriorated in recent years and total venture capital including funding by
VC funds and business angels, increased over the period 2007-2010 but declined
in both 2011 and 2012.
The OECD says that levels of venture capital have been maintained thanks to
state support. Nevertheless, a formal assessment of the costs and benefits of
supporting SMEs, through equity, “would be helpful, as equity instruments tend
to be of higher cost than standard debt instruments, and are not necessarily
suitable for the smaller segment of SMEs.”
enterprise minister, said that with 60,000 jobs created in the past year, Ireland has the fastest employment
growth rate in the OECD.
Among the conclusions of the report highlighted by
- The Action Plan for Jobs (APJ) was “a most welcome and important initiative
when launched in February 2012”.
- The APJ’s focus on private sector-led, export-oriented job creation by
getting framework conditions right and continually upgrading the business
environment is a sound approach
- The focus on building and strengthening linkages between the domestic
SME and multinational sector is also welcome
- The concerted whole-of-government policy implementation with political
buy-in, oversight and direction at the highest level is a significant
positive development in Irish public governance – this “marks an important
innovation in Irish governance”
- The rigorous quarterly monitoring and reporting system is another such
significant positive development in Irish governance
- Future improvements should include introducing a comprehensive
performance assessment framework to measure progress towards achieving its
- Future improvements should also include ensuring oversight for
strategy-setting, policy execution, and performance monitoring by the
Economic Recovery and Jobs Committee.
At a press conference, Richard Bruton denied a
Finfacts assertion that the level of job creation in 2013 of 61,000 is subject
to uncertainty given the claim that farming jobs surged almost 30,000 in 2013
while the numbers in self-employment without employees, was back to boom times.
Earlier this month, Prof
John FitzGerald of the ESRI, said in the institute's quarterly
economic report that for the first time in 60 years sectoral data on employment
Irish Economy 2014: Did Ireland add 61,000 jobs in
On the OECD's study detail on the ICT (information,
communications, telecom) sector, I told Yves Leterme,
deputy secretary general of the OECD and former Belgian prime minister,
that while the OECD's March report on the digital economy and international tax
rules, highlighted that Ireland was the second biggest services exporter in the
world after India, most of the Irish total was related
to tax strategies.
So the ICT data in the report is not reliable.
chief executive, Fórfas, told Finfacts that the
estimate of the CSO that ICT employment fell in 2013 to 82,000 was not
comparable with a Fórfas report that ICT employment was at 87,000 in 2013.
Shanahan said that the CSO's total covered only functions
in for example radio and television - - this claim was
also not reliable as should be obvious from the total numbers.
The press handler had already interjected to tell me
that the minister wasn't to be interrupted, so there wasn't an opportunity to
challenge the claim.
The press handler's job is to try to limit any
potential for embarrassment and in 2007 I went to a Fianna Fáil general election
press conference where its 250,000 five-year new jobs plan was unveiled by Brian
Cowen, finance minister, and Micheál Martin, enterprise minister.
I asked Martin what proportion of jobs were expected in the exporting goods and
services sector seeing that only 6,000 of 83,000 new jobs created in 2006 came
from there. He claimed my figures weren’t correct; Cowen blustered that I was
ignoring services, which I wasn’t and what excited the journalists was the
latter’s claim that Pat Rabbitte, the then Labour Party leader, as finance
minister, would be a threat to the 12.5% corporation tax rate.