Speaking today during Dáil statements on the Government’s Job Initiative Sinn Fein’s Michael Colreavy who said “The Government’s so-called Jobs Initiative plan is a plan for a town – not a plan for a nation.”
He went on to say “the initiative goes no-where near far enough to address the employment problem that the state is currently facing.”
Deputy Colreavy called on the government to create jobs through the building of schools, restoration of local roads and to utilise Ireland’s natural resources in favour of all Irish citizens.
In conclusion he stated “this nation needs a government with vision, courage and a passion for the small things right. This nation needs a government that seeks an economy working for the people, not people working for the economy. This nation needs a real jobs initiative.”
Full text of speech below:
This jobs initiative plan reminds me of the person that closes their eyes, walks a bit faster and whistles as they pass the graveyard hoping that things will work out ok. The reality is that we have IMF/ECB austerity budgets for the next four years which will take more money from local economies. The government could have chosen to cap public service pay, including the Taoiseach’s at €100,000, the government could have chosen to introduce a new higher rate of tax for those earning €100,000 per annum. The government could have chosen to introduce a wealth text; the government could have chosen to renegotiate a better deal on our oil and gas licences. The government did none of these things.
We cannot fix the national economy by taking money from the pockets of the very people who sustain local economies. There has to be a better way and there is a better way.
The Government’s Job initiative is well-intentioned but closing your eyes will only get us into further trouble. You are making it hard, the next four budgets will deflate local economies and thereby the national economy.
Deputy Gerry Adam’s had it right when he said that the Government’s Job initiative plan is a plan for a town – not a plan for a nation. The initiative goes no-where near far enough to address the employment problem that this state is currently facing. It would be unfair of me to rubbish the initiative entirely - it is not completely redundant. Sinn Fein welcomes 20,900 new training places which have been provided for under the various schemes announced by the government on Tuesday. However in no way does it go as far as it needs to go. To say that it is disappointing is an understatement – In an election that was won on one issue and one issue alone – jobs, we have seen almost all promises made by the government on the issue broken.
On top of not actively creating any jobs, the government has gone further by not encouraging or offering any incentives for entrepreneurs. Nothing within this initiative is of a promotional nature. The government are continuing to make it extremely difficult for anyone who wishes to step out alone and start a new business.
More than not creating new jobs the government is actually going further by making it difficult for people who actually have jobs. Even those who are employed are facing problems under the current government. Under the current regime, rates on businesses are based on the size of the building as opposed to being based on the money that is actually generated there. People are being put out of jobs purely because they cannot afford such payments. There is a better way than this. By charging rates based on how much is generated there rather than the size, small to medium sized businesses are given a better chance to thrive rather than being strangled and forced to close as is the case at the minute. All over Sligo and North Leitrim businesses are closing because they simply cannot afford the rates that they are being forced to pay.
Water charges which were strongly opposed by Sinn Fein are yet another issue standing in the way of business owners. They are strangling local businesses and are a millstone around the neck of any business owner. People simply cannot afford to pay these charges; they are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their businesses afloat.
There are many opportunities for job creation in this country.
In my own constituency of Sligo/North Leitrim there are several schools were children are being taught in prefabs. What is the sense in this? First of all these are not fit for purpose, our future generations deserve more than this given the boom in which they were born. But furthermore why would we pay rates and rent to private individuals when there is an opportunity for job creation through the building of schools? In the long run this will inevitably save us money. Such a project not only creates jobs but it also ensures that these schools will be there in years to come. Sinn Fein is advocatingan increased school-building and refurbishment programme for 2011 to take at least 125 schools through the construction stage. A 16-classroom generic repeat design project costs approximately €3million in current market conditions. This would cost €375million in total and create approximately 4,000 jobs directly and 1,600 indirect jobs. A minimum of 150 school-building projects should enter the architectural and planning stage each year so that school projects are ready to proceed as quickly as possible to the construction phases.
What about the NAMA owned buildings?
I think it is really important to mention the buildings owned by NAMA. We are surrounded by empty buildings that are more than fit for purpose, why aren’t we using these? Are they just going to lie empty and un-used? What is the sense in this? Surely these can be used in a better way given the state the country is currently in? Why are tax payers funding private landlords in leases for state offices while so many buildings owned by tax funded NAMA lie idle? We could use these to let out cheaply or even for free to job-seekers who could then use them to set up industries/businesses. As it stands these empty buildings are not being used and not bringing in any money, we should change this. Why aren’t we making it easy? Why are we making it difficult for the people? With the economy, as in life, we should be making it easy to do the right thing.
Another huge area for revenue is our natural resources. We need to ensure that these are being utilised to the maximum possible gain for the citizens of this nation, we need to remain conscious of the declaration in the Democratic Programme that ‘the Nation’s sovereignty extends not only to all men and women of the Nation, but to all its material possessions, the Nation’s soil and all its resources, all the wealth and all the wealth-producing processes within the Nation’ We have seen how mistakes were made under previous governments, particularly with the Corrib gas issue. The deal was done behind closed doors and the Irish people did not see a red cent of the money gained from our natural gas. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that in the future these mistakes are not repeated.
We need to make the most of what we have. We have vast untapped potential that exists off our shores in oil and gas reserves, estimated by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources in 2006 to be ten billion barrels oil equivalent, which at current prices amounts to a potential value of around €700 billion;
Sinn Fein is calling for:
— a complete review of licensing and revenue terms and the immediate revoking of the consents given to the Corrib consortium and the license for Lough Allen pending such a review;
— the establishment of a State oil, gas and mineral exploration company that would hold a 51% majority share in all oil and gas finds and would have its own research facility in order to collect full and up to date information on reserves;
— the imposition of a 50% tax on oil and gas profits; and
— a 7.5% royalty;
And that the revenues that would accrue from this would provide towards the resources for long term and sustainable growth in place of the current indenture to the EU and IMF because of the unsustainable bank debt.
The way in which government departments and semi state offices work will also have to change. Tendering for example needs to be done in such a way that we get people out of the dole queue and into jobs. Only then will the true economic cost be known. We don’t want false economics; the only unit of measurement that counts is the tax payer. Every government agency and government department needs to take into account the wider economic impact of their choices and decisions in spending public money. Every decision must take into account the need to provide work for those who are jobless.
There is huge potential for job creation through roads. There are many roads around the country that need major work. In my own constituency there are several roads that are not fit for purpose momentarily. The unfinished 12 km stretch of N4 from Dublin – Sligo at Clonemahon is unfit for purpose.
The N 16 Sligo to Blacklion section of Sligo – Belfast road is a disgrace – an upgrade has been promised for at least 20 years and still nothing has happened.
The N59 from Sligo – Ballina and the R280 from Tullaghan to Carrick-on-Shannon similarly need major work.
Fixing these roads will not only provide employment but it will also do great things for rural Ireland by attracting more people into the areas thereby further stimulating local economies.
If we want to help the economy lets tackle the delay in paying Agriculture grants to farmers. People who should have been paid in December still have not been paid, they have been told there is a computer problem and that they won’t be paid until June or July. I imagine that if the Departmental officials were told this there would be serious problems.
This initiative will do very little for the 8983 unemployed people in Sligo/ Leitrim; it will do very little for the thousands who have been, and will be forced to emigrate.
Let us remove impediments to business people by implementing the proposals contained in Burke and Mc Ivor business plan for the development of the fishery harbour centres.
This nation needs a government with vision, courage and a passion for the small things right. This nation needs a government that seeks an economy working for the people, not people working for the economy. This nation needs a real jobs initiative.