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Commercial semi states and local government have a role to play in Jobs Initiative

11 May, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon on the government’s Jobs Initiative Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD described Fine Gael and Labour’s decision to exclude commercial semi-state bodies and local authorities in its labour activation and job creation measures as a missed opportunity.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Eighteen per cent of our work force is employed by the state. This workforce delivers critical infrastructure and services, and there is much more that needs to be done. Excluding commercial semi-state bodies and local authorities in its labour activation and job creation measures has been a missed opportunity by Fine Gael and Labour.

“Sinn Féin welcomes capital expenditure measures – accelerating capital projects that are shovel ready and labour intensive has obvious benefits and will deliver a social dividend. However unlike Fine Gael and Labour we want to see real investment in capital projects. An additional 40 million euro as promised in the Jobs Initiative is massively inadequate. Sinn Féin wants the government to invest an additional one billion euro from the National Pension Reserve Fund into infrastructure projects – without stimulus we cannot create jobs and in turn boost domestic growth.

“Unfinished apprenticeships have been one of the fall outs for our young people following the collapse of the construction sector. These young people could finish out their apprenticeships in the ESB and Bord Gáis. This is just one simple example of how semi-states could and should play a vital role in training and up-skilling the young and long-term unemployed.

"Minister Noonan yesterday promised a modest boost to employment with a refocus on minor capital works. Yet just three months ago Fine Gael promised voters a seven billion investment in the state’s water services, telecommunications infrastructure and energy industry.

“There are no additional water infrastructure projects included in the Initiative – despite the impending flat rate water charge of 175 euro due to be imposed next year.

“The efficient supply of water to homes and industry is the responsibility of local authorities across the state and the funding for maintaining and improving the water supply infrastructure comes from government. Yet as detailed in the Local Government Efficiency Review Group last year staffing levels in the local government sector have been reduced by 5,000 in the period between mid-2008 and early 2010 – that’s a cut of 13% in the overall number of local government staff. Staffing numbers have dropped even further over the last twelve months.

“Our water systems are antiquated and desperately in need of investment. Yet despite this there is no increase in the governments spend on the Water Services Investment Programme which is already limited in its scope as it will only address a mere 3% of the national water infrastructure network.

“Fine Gael’s commitment to small government will drive down growth, worsen infrastructure and service delivery, deepen the recession and increase inequality. Labour must step up and shout stop. The people cannot continue to carry the can for bad banks and the reckless lending practices of European financial institutions. Monies from the National Pension Fund must not be directed to Anglo as this government intends, but must instead be used to fund a stimulus package that can reverse the crisis of unemployment.” ENDS

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