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Kenny - Supporting Small to Medium Enterprises is the way forward

9 December, 2007

Cllr Martin Kenny Leitrim speaking during the economy section of the party's conference said "Small to Medium Enterprises are now said by mainstream economists to be the best way to produce new jobs. And certainly the best way forward for the regions, as the corporations has done little for west or border region."

Councillor Kenny said:

Cynics used to say politics has become a ‘spin’ activity.  Now more than cynics are saying it, and recent political news certainly seems to provide plenty of supporting evidence.  But politics is a serious business, and we are entering a very serious time in Irish politics.  Economic success comes and goes with increasing speed, witness the fall of the dollar and the weakness of the US economy.  We who are in politics need to heed these warning signs.  The Government of Ireland, and all of Ireland for that matter, simply has to get real about what will follow the Celtic Tiger economy and defend our new status as winners in the economic game.

Being from the west I want to talk about the regions outside Dublin. Connaught’s status as Ireland’s least prosperous region is well known and needs no elaboration.  For well over a century every attempt to address Connaught’s economic problems famously met with failure.  Recent improvements, while welcome, and finally effective at delivering some real gains, still have not kept pace with most of the rest of Ireland.

Previous attempts at development in Connaught have underachieved because they have failed to adequately address essential facts and economic fundamentals.  We are at a critical moment.  Ireland is entering the next stage of its development, creating its post Celtic Tiger economy, and beginning at a time of increasing weakness.  Government need to take special care that our next decisions on economic strategy do not again disadvantage the regions.

The present high performance Irish economy has been based on the inward investment from the multinational corporations attracted by tax brakes and grants by the IDA and a building boom, both of these have mainly been centered on the east coast with some spread out to the regions.

Firstly, big corporations setting up in Ireland is continually becoming a less achievable objective for growing our economy; secondly, the building industry is slowing or stalling, as home buyers stand outside the market waiting for prices to fall some more.

Indeed the Governments stamp duty changes are not going to make any real difference, as buyers wait as prices fall and prices have to in order to clear the market, so we need to focus on other strategies, to create a sustainable solid economy to provide jobs and income for people and resources to reinvest in the run down public services across the state.

 Small to Medium Enterprises are now said by mainstream economists to be the best way to produce new jobs. And certainly the best way forward for the regions, as the corporations has done little for west or border region.

We have a government with endless studies, plans, documents and explanations, and the end result always seems to be a 'one size fits all' approach (the IDA, the corporations, the building sector: what works for Dublin, ought to work everywhere, they will take care of it wherever you are).

Now when I go out and talk to Leitrim business people, they all agree that:  What we really need is for the government (and EnterpriseIreland or whatever agency) to provide the real things that SMEs need to succeed:

(1) Marketing Services;

(2) Administrative Support to reduce their paperwork burden;

(3) Technical Support for Software, for Communications, for Internet Business Opportunities, and for Customer Management Systems;

(4) Business School Expertise in managing growth and particularly in Cash Flow

Management, where success brings receivables problems and slow growth presents a completely different set of cash management problems: slow growth requiring access to additional capital, and often capital guarantees to access it.
     If these four steps were taken to assist small business I am confident we would see sustainable Irish enterprises providing good jobs and income across the country.

nother issue I want to talk about is the 'Development' part of R&D.  I am asking 'Where is it? Where is the Development part of it?'

We need more of the 8.2 Billion Euro R&D Fund in the NDP to go into Development, and we need to GET IT OUT INTO THE REGIONS, not just funding for Universities and Corporations. Move it out into the regions and get some enterprise going.

There are lots of businesses that modern communications now make available to the regions, but industrial scale BROADBAND is needed as a must for development, I would suggest a fibre-optic communications backbone installed along the new, promised, but yet to be developed western rail corridor, that would create enterprise opportunities alongside transport needs being fulfilled.

A real economy cannot be built by Government taking the duties they have to provide vital services such as health, communications and road infrastructure and giving them as business opportunities to their cronies to profit from, turning state monopolies into private monopolies at the publics cost and spinning this as progress.

Government does have major duties to assist enterprise to develop and grow and as a regulator to ensure the consumer isn’t ripped off and that the game is played fair and small businesses get a good chance and workers are treated right.

 Sinn Fein is the only the party in the Ireland that has real, practical plans and practical economic solutions, we are today putting paid to the canard from our political opponents that we are economically unsophisticated.

We stand for a united Ireland, We stand for a prosperous Ireland, We stand for creating an Ireland where the young people from Leitrim and Cavan and Mayo who go out and excel educationally with degrees and masters degrees, can have quality jobs to match their qualifications in Leitrim and Cavan and Mayo or Donegal or wherever. We stand for an Ireland where common-sense practical solutions will be applied to our difficulties, where Ireland will create wealth and prosperity and display it, in our schools and proper health services and care for our people.

 We are committed to making our vision a reality and are developing the strategies to win the hearts and minds of Ireland, the work ahead is major, so what, as long as we are strong, confident and competent in our work.  

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