The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe has said the EU IMF bailout will allow him to focus on his contribution on the areas of the plan “most pertinent to our enterprise sector” and that it sends an international message that our “smart” economy is still on target.
The minister said that the rescue plan has critical factors that would allow Ireland to tackle the economic crisis head on.
He believes the plan contains measures that “will put the public finances in order, drive growth and support jobs” and that the nature of that laid out the course of action he believed would “bring about stability and growth”.
“I especially welcome the acknowledgement and commitment to continued investment in the enterprise sector.
“The capital investment of almost €2.2bn in the enterprise sector, and the maximum support and protection afforded to businesses throughout the period of the plan is incredibly important.”
O’Keeffe said the plan underpins our export-led recovery and that barriers to jobs and costs to business must be addressed and allow the “smart” economy to flourish.
Foreign direct investments
“The multi-billion investment by the Government in the plan means we will continue to win new foreign direct investments, grow indigenous exports and tourist numbers, further our ‘smart’ economy objectives and create 300,000 new jobs by 2016.”
The minister said he expected unemployment to fall to below 10pc by 2014 and that Enterprise Ireland will receive a 7pc increase in its capital allocation for activity in science, technology and innovation, meaning that “increased funding will be used to enable Irish firms to develop the important competitive advantages that innovation will deliver.”
He listed higher education as an area that will be central to his focus in the “industry-led research agenda”.
“Under the plan, we will make multi-million euro investments to encourage collaboration between industry and higher-education institutions.
“That will include the allocation of almost €8m to create new high-tech competence centres that will undertake an industry-led research agenda.
“The target is to double the number of competence centres to 16 by 2015.”
The increased allocation to Science Foundation Ireland next year sends a strong message nationally and internationally that the Government’s focus on driving the ‘smart’ economy is on track, according to the minister and in “addition to the significant investment in growth, jobs and innovation, the plan sets out clear measures to further improve our competitiveness.
O’Keeffe said he expects that under the plan there would be a State investment in next-generation broadband where the market fails to deliver.