The Irish Government will deliver a multi-annual Action Plan for Jobs aiming to make Ireland the best small country to do business with in Europe, with quarterly targets from each department.
The first annual Action Plan for Jobs will be published in January, containing numerous measures from across the entire range of government activity, which aims to be implemented during 2012.
All departments in the Government will be involved in the Action Plan. An implementation group consisting of representatives from the Department of the Taoiseach, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Forfás will be responsible for ensuring that these targets are met.
It will aim to improve competitiveness, support start-ups, develop employment initiatives and assist with business growth.
It also hopes to attract inward entrepreneurial start-ups, develop the impact of FDI and exploit opportunities within sectors such as ICT, gaming, life sciences, the green economy and cloud computing.
“The Government’s top priority is jobs and it was the sole focus of today’s Cabinet budget meeting,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
“The challenge for all of us is to bring our national finances under control in a manner that still supports jobs and enterprise. During this budget process, the guiding principle when taking decisions has been to support jobs and growth. To this end, we will be keeping our commitment that there will be no increases in income tax.
“But we also need to be ambitious for the future and so the target of Government remains creating 100,000 extra jobs by 2015. This will be part achieved by delivering on my promise to make Ireland the best small country in the world to do business,” he said.
The Action Plan for Jobs outlined three measures to help combat issues that businesses faced in accessing credit:
Micro Finance Loan Fund
A Micro Finance Loan Fund will aim to generate up to €100m in additional micro-enterprise lending, aiming to help more than 5,000 businesses over a 10-year period. It will come into place in the first quarter of 2012.
It will provide loans on a commercial basis for start-ups and micro-enterprises using an additional exchequer investment of €10m to leverage further funds from private sourcing.
Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton will draft legislation on a Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme, which will see the Government partially guarantee loans by traditional lenders to viable businesses at the margins of commercial lending decisions.
The difficulties businesses face could include insufficient collateral or if the lender doesn’t have the skills or experience to undertake a proper assessment of the proposition because of a lack of understanding of new sectors or technologies.
According to the Government, for every €100m of loans guaranteed, the scheme will benefit more than 1,200 business and provide more than €15m in net benefit to the exchequer.
Second call for Innovation Fund Ireland
There will be a second call for the Innovation Fund Ireland at the start of 2012 worth €60m. The first call was made last year for the Enterprise Ireland-managed fund and the first of these investments are about to be finalised.
Chambers Ireland welcomed the Action Plan for jobs as "a positive step towards creating growth and stability", but emphasised that the monitoring group needs nominees from the private sector.
“The implementation group charged with ensuring targets are achieved must strike a balance between the public and private sector," said Chambers Ireland’s chief executive Ian Talbot.
"It is vital that the group includes representatives from the private sector to ensure targets are met in what is essentially a scheme to boost private-sector jobs and development," he said.