All Ireland Economy
The route we take to recovery must look beyond the old economic system and to the ability of the32 Counties to contribute to a sustainable and competitive economy. The increase in cross border trade, banking and insurance regulation and the potential of an all-Ireland energy market have demonstrated the interlinked and inter-dependent nature of economies, north and south. The private sector has moved ahead of the Dáil and the Assembly, reflecting the reality that the all Island economy makes good business sense.
There are just over 6.4 million people on our island.Existing economic strategies north and south are targeted at high value, high cost jobs and innovation, research and development, yet we have two separate education systems and disjointed and uncoordinated third level sectors and isolated industries. We continue to have skills shortages in the very sectors that are being promoted.
Government policies place exports as a key to delivering growth. For many the first steps into a new market is across the border, but both Enterprise Ireland and INI compete with limited resources to promote companies from their respective jurisdictions in the global market place. For an island the size of Ireland there must also be a cohesive approach to attracting Foreign Direct Investment. At present the limited resources of INI and IDA are spread too thin in the global marketplace and compete for investment in similar sectors.
Finally, duplication costs of public services must be eradicated. Sinn Féin supports the development of efficient and effective public service that fully realise value for money. Where there has been cooperation on public services, it has been successful.
Sinn Féin calls for
- All-Ireland economic planning including the establishment of an all-Ireland job creation plan under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council and the bringing together of an all-Ireland export strategy
- The development of a single body under the NSMC to promote and secure FDI. We also need to end the duplication by state agencies and bodies with responsibility to promote Irish business and produce.
- Maximise the potential of Intertrade Ireland for economic cooperation across the island
- Greater co-ordination of third level provision to ensure value for money and the creation of national centres of research, development and innovation.
- Increased access to EU cross border and economic development programmes
- The removal of barriers to labour market mobility through the harmonisation of employment terms and conditions and recognition of qualifications.
- Joint training courses for the unemployed in border areas and joint promotion of labour ‘activation’ measures which are tailored to specific sectoral needs and potential growth areas.
- Harmonisation of all-Ireland taxation and regulation policies and an end to the additional cross border costs associated with telecommunications, banking etc.
- Improved all-Ireland tourism through enhanced powers for Tourism Ireland
- Continued work with the Irish Diaspora to promote trade and investment.
- Realising economy of scale saving by the joint procurement and tendering for the supply of government goods and services.
- A review of the provision of hospital services in border regions and of tertiary services on an all-Ireland basis; review provision of primary and community care in border areas; multi-agency emergency planning looking at sharing specialist or regional facilities, equipment, clinical and support staff; increased cooperation in health research and development; and cooperation on expansion plans already underway in radiotherapy treatments.
- Development of joint transport provision, including school transport in border areas, including the sharing of vehicles etc
- All Ireland water and wastewater management systems where river catchments, lakes and other bodies of water straddle the border; cooperation in river basin districts; provision of flood defences in border areas.
- Economy of scale saving and promote best practice in waste management.
An all-Ireland energy plan
A slash and burn approach to reducing budget deficits is no more acceptable in the north than it is in the south. The Tory-led coalition government in Britain is adopting the wrong approach in trying to cut its way out of recession. The rollout of the £4 billion reduction in the Block grant in the north over the next 4 years will have a significant adverse impact on the economy of the north. It will increase unemployment, and target particularly the most vulnerable and the most disadvantaged. It will cause greater inequalities and it will run down rather than rebuild the economy.
It is vital that all political parties in the Assembly, and representatives in public, private, community/voluntary sectors and the trade union movement
unite in opposition to the Tory imposed cuts.
The Executive and the Assembly’s lack of fiscal powers restrict its ability to tackle the economic crisis. All parties should unite to press the British Government to transfer tax-varying and borrowing powers to the Assembly.
In the interim, it is critical that the Assembly and the Executive, in the administration of its budget, pays particular attention to the need to continue to deliver frontline public services in health, education and transport; invest in capital infrastructure projects; ensure adequate housing for all and tackle
poverty, disadvantage and inequality across urban areas and rural communities.
Key policies delivered by Sinn Fein in the Assembly:
- Fuel Poverty /Hardship fund of £22.5 million
- Social Protection Fund (SPF) to deliver £20 million in 2011/12 to the most vulnerable individuals and to those most detrimentally affected by changes in benefits and welfare being imposed by the British government. Funding of at least £20 million per year will continue in the following years
- Supporting Households - Rates per household in the north are on average 47% less than in England, Scotland and Wales.
- Social Investment fund of £80 million
- Supported manufacturing and small businesses by holding the level of rates for manufacturing at 30%, which has saved industry around £70 million over 3 years, and benefited 4,000 manufacturing businesses. A Small Business Rate Relief provides help of around £8m to 16,000 small businesses.
- Since 2007 the Executive has secured almost £2.6 billion investment commitments and half a billion pounds in annual salaries; created more jobs and better jobs than at any time since records began and done this in the context of a global recession
- Invested more in infrastructure than at any time before. The Investment Strategy has seen record levels of capital infrastructure investment of £5bn
over the period 2008 to 2011, an increase of 22% over the previous 3 years.
- Free travel for men and women aged 60-64 (over 65s already in receipt of free travel). There are now 61,000 smart passes in circulation and some 5.5 million journeys have been made since the scheme started.
- No additional charges on water
- Free prescriptions
- An additional £12 million sourced to roll out a childcare strategy
- Produced a set of revenue raising proposals that would help raise an additional £1.6 billion of additional money for use in frontline services and investment.
Sinn Féin is working in the Executive to:
- Introduce tax varying and borrowing powers to enable the Executive to generate income and stimulate development.
- Implement the Review of Public Administration (RPA) delivering savings of £400 million.
- Establish the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) saving £80 million over the next four years.
- Introduce a phone mast tax to generate £160 million over the next four years.
- Enable the Housing Executive to borrow £250 million per year from, amongst others, the European Investment Bank to fund social housing
- Draw down an additional €100 million euro from the EU 7th Framework programme over the next two years to fund Research and Development and promote innovation.
- Maximise access to the Joint European Support for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) and Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) and the PROGRESS
Microfinance fund of €500 million.
- Seek agreement from the four main banks to establish a Sustainable Economic Development Bond of £400 million over the next 4 years, (25
million per bank per year) as their contribution to the recovery from the economic crisis.
- Seek agreement with the Credit Union Movement to create a £100 million Social Fund targeted at growing indigenous business
- Reduce Ministerial and MLA salaries and expenses by 15%, saving £7.5 million over the next four years.
- Abolish additional remuneration for Chairs/Vice-Chairs of Assembly committees.
- Establish an investment fund to revive and grow the economy, with a major focus on investing in SMEs, social enterprises, new technologies, the tourism industry and manufacturing designed for export.
- Implement “the Green New Deal” proposals, with the potential to create thousands of green collar jobs
- Introduce an Environmental levy on plastic bags, to promote the “reduce, reuse, recycle” policy. The levy is expected to generate £5 million per year
when the legislation is introduced early next year.
- Abolish unnecessary quangos and government arms-length bodies and reduce remuneration levels.
- End the use of external consultants for work which can be carried out by the civil service
- Introduce a pay freeze for public sector workers in the higher rate income tax bracket.