Irish leader Enda Kenny launches new jobs plans - unemployment now at 14.5 percent
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said with 300,000 jobs having been lost because of a flawed economic model which collapsed in 2008, job creation was the top priority.
“However, there is no big bang solution. It will take a period of hard work by businesses, government and people across the country to rebuild the economy brick by brick, reform by reform, to get back to sustainable, enterprise-led growth where more businesses can start up, expand and create new jobs,” he said.
In an effort to address the difficulties small companies face accessing credit, the state is to guarantee 75% of loans to small and medium businesses, a measure expected to be operational by the second quarter of this year.
A new Micro Finance Fund will supply investment in small companies seeking less than €25,000. The fund will be €10 million every year for 10 years. The European Investment Bank will supply some of the equity.
The plan proposes a finders’ fee of “up to €4,000” for people of Irish extraction abroad who succeed in bringing major job projects to Ireland.
There will also be a facility for the diaspora to contribute to investment in new enterprises, which is modeled on a similar scheme in Israel.
David Begg, general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said the Action Plan for Jobs was a welcome initiative, but he added that it suffered some “key” deficiencies.
He was pleased to see a desire to create jobs at the heart of government policy, but he feared a commitment to further austerity budgets would see more people out of work and emigration continuing for some time. He was concerned the plan “appeared to contain no proposals to counteract long-term unemployment.”
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Employer lobby Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC), said the plan featured a range of practical measures that would help businesses to create jobs.
But IBEC director general Danny McCoy also warned that the primary cause of unemployment was the lack of consumer confidence and domestic demand in the economy and that the initiative did little to address those problems. “New thinking and greater ambition from both the government and troika will be required in the coming months and years,” he added.
Opposition political party Fianna Fail said the plan displayed a “significant lack of imagination” on the government’s part and was more focused on organizational changes than stimulus measures.
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