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Sinn Féin calls for more support for SME’s

24 February, 2009 - by Jennifer McCann

Sinn Féin MLA and deputy chair of the Enterprise, Trade and Investment committee Jennifer McCann has called for the urgent need to bolster the Small and Medium Enterprise sector. This follows a debate in today's Assembly on the negative impact that the current economic climate is having on the sector

Speaking today Ms McCann said:

Speaking today Ms McCann sa

"The current economic climate and associated factors have hit the small and medium enterprise sector especially hard. We must aim to sustain the businesses and jobs within this sector that are already in existence here and try to offset any further job losses.

"That also includes creating new investment opportunities and training people in the skills that they will need.

"The economic downturn has impacted on the levels of foreign investment and therefore it is even more important in the current conditions that small and medium sized businesses and social economy enterprises are given the resources they need to sustain themselves in the short term and develop and grow in the longer term.

"For example, in an all Ireland context almost 16 billion euro is spent on public procurement each year and most of that goes to companies overseas. This must be redirected to support SME's and indigenous companies.

"SME's account for almost 99% of the businesses in the north and yet almost 3 quarter of small and medium size businesses including those from the social economy sector don't even apply for public procurement contracts as they feels the tendering stage is staked against them and weighted firmly in favour of large companies.

"By incorporating social clauses into all public procurement contracts at the tendering stage we have an opportunity to deliver on the important issues of fairness, inclusion and equality of opportunity by actively and effectively challenging existing patterns of social and economic disadvantage and using any future increased prosperity to tackle ongoing poverty.

"Banks too have a corporate responsibility to ensure lending and borrowing facilities are available and accessible to keep SME's and social economy enterprises going. It is important that banks and other lending institutions are challenged about their current poor levels of lending to this sector."

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