Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin sets out all Ireland enterprise and job creation policy

18 February, 2006

Sinn Féin TD and Spokesperson on workers rights Arthur Morgan called on the Ard Fheis to support Motion 302: All-Ireland Enterprise and Job Creation Policy.

I move motion 302 calling for the endorsement of Sinn Féin's All-Ireland Enterprise and Job Creation Policy on behalf of the Ard Comhairle.

This is the first component of Sinn Féin's rights-based economic policy; there will be further policy documents on taxation and on trade.

The document sets out Sinn Féin's vision for a new all Ireland economy, based on equality and social justice; a people centered economy where everyone can have a dignified and productive working life, a fair income and a good quality of life - an economy which is characterised by the positive redistribution of resources to eradicate poverty and social exclusion.

In the document Sinn Féin rejects many mainstream market orthodoxies,including 'trickle down' theory, the theory of supply and demand, the correlation of low taxation and low wages with competitiveness, the belief that inward investment is the key to solving economic problems, and the oversimplified equation of growth with well-being and social progress.

We argue a that fairer distribution of wealth and income is a far more effective way of dealing with poverty than the present dependence on economic growth alone, that equality pays for itself in the long-term but it costs up front and that a stable, strong economy and society requires balance between growth and socio-economic rights.

The role of Government and the Public Sector
Sinn Féin believes that Government should have a central role in managing the economy and that quality public services can support economic development by providing equitable access to essential public services necessary for a good quality of life and the conduct of business. We reject the view that expenditure on public services is a burden on the productive sectors of the economy.

Ending the economic inefficiency of partition
Partition is economically inefficient and wasteful. The northern economy is unsustainable by itself and cannot exist in isolation from the rest of the island. Sinn Féin will continue to work to end partition and to press the Irish and British governments to fulfil their all-Ireland economic commitments in the Good Friday Agreement and in the Common Chapter.

Education and Training for Higher Quality Jobs
In line with Sinn Féin's rights based approach the document argues that a well-developed system of rights to further one's education, including training and retraining, is key to future competitiveness. We support a comprehensive strategy for lifelong learning and skills development to enable all workers to achieve their potential.

Corporation Tax:
The section on corporation tax is not a change of policy, rather it is an attempt to set out, in a coherent and comprehensive manner, the arguments upon which this policy position is based.

Sinn Féin's analysis is that cutting corporation tax is not the best way to create a favorable enterprise environment. It looks at the ability of the Nordic states, who hold five of the top ten positions amongst the most competitive economies in the world, and provides evidence in relation to the Nordic model which challenges the conventional wisdom that high taxes and large safety nets undermine competitiveness.

It is also not sustainable to compete with other states by engaging in a race to the bottom on corporation tax if we want to maintain and enhance the desired levels of public services and infrastructure.

This section proposes:

· A 5% increase in corporation tax in the 26 Counties from the current 12.5% to 17.5% as part of a much needed wider progressive reform of the tax system, the objective of which would be the creation of a fair and egalitarian tax system enabling the state to deliver the infrastructure and social spending which ultimately has a beneficial impact for business as well as communities.

· The gradual harmonisation of corporation tax on an all-Ireland basis. In the immediate term, a corporation tax rate in the 6 Counties of 17.5% for smaller companies with profits from £50,001 to £300,000 while maintaining the rate of 30% for larger companies with profits of over £300,000.

The document also argues for:

· A regulatory policy that should be used to protect the public good in the business environment.

· The need for proactive government intervention to bring about balanced regional development.

· The extension of the euro throughout the whole island as a necessary step in paving the way for reunification.

· Amendment of the stability and growth pact so that the ability of an Irish Government to borrow for investment in infrastructural development is not restricted.

· Fundamental reform of the Lisbon Strategy and continued opposition to the EU Services Directive.

We support the development of indigenous enterprise, in particular SMEs and we believe that the social economy should be a key element of economic development. We recognise the key role of the social economy in enhancing communities suffering social and economic exclusion.

We support the need for Enterprise Development Agencies to implement the enterprise policy of Government and to stimulate business growth. We outline our concerns around aspects of their work that need to change. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of all the Economic Development Agencies is needed to work towards better coordination and planning on an all-Ireland basis. We need greater transparency and accountability and we call for a single all-Ireland Development Agency.

Promoting innovation and R&D are priorities for Sinn Féin. We want to see greater investment in R&D, a greater spread of enterprise activity and the creation of an R&D innovation environment in the whole business sector throughout Ireland.

This is a brief overview of what is a very comprehensive document. I urge people to read the detail of it and commend it to the Ard Fhéis for approval.

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