Simon Coveney TD, Cllr. Regina Doherty and Dr. Leo Varadkar TDThe Government’s visionless policy of “writing whatever cheques are necessary” to bail out delinquent banks, and then finding the softest targets to cut the Budget deficit is not fair and is not helping people get back to work.
This strategy may win plaudits from powerful interests in the financial markets whose only concern is that they get bailed out of their bad investments in Irish banks, but it sells our people and their future prosperity short.
o Government policies will lead to the loss of a further 70,000 jobs in 2010 – a total loss of almost 300,000 jobs in the three years since it was re-elected.
o The unemployment rate has tripled to 13.4% - the second highest in EU.
o 432,500 were on the dole in April – record figures.
o Those under 34 years of age have suffered 85% of the job losses.
o And 82,998 people under 25 are on the dole, with tens of thousands more forced to emigrate to find work.
At its core, the government’s strategy is about battening down the hatches and protecting a circle of powerful interests that help sustain its power, while freezing out a younger generation who have yet to get a foothold on the economic ladder. Brian Cowen’s “bubble economy” has resulted in sky high personal debt matched with deteriorating national competitiveness.
Fine Gael has a very different approach to fixing the economy, focused on job creation and protection. We understand that we cannot fix the banks and the public finances unless we also fix the jobs crisis. Our plan for “Getting Ireland Working Again” would create and protect 175,000 jobs.
Instead of increasing taxes, as the Government proposes, we would immediately cut taxes on jobs and struggling sectors of the economy. We would abolish the €10 travel tax for tourists, cut VAT on home extensions and refurbishments, hotels and restaurants and cut PRSI for 1.7 million jobs.
Instead of borrowing billions more to bail out Anglo Irish Bank, as the Government proposes, we would use the same money to start a new National Recovery Bank to ease credit conditions for families and small businesses.
Instead of slashing investment in vital infrastructures, as the Government proposes, Fine Gael’s “NewERA” plan would create 105,000 jobs through an €18 billion upgrading of the clogged arteries of our economy – water, broadband and energy – paid for in part by selling assets that the State no longer needs. Economic commentator Eddie Hobbs described it as “the best thought out strategy in town”.
Instead of encouraging idleness, dependency and poverty for younger unemployed people, we would use the social welfare budget to expand second chance education, training and internship opportunities.
Instead of more cuts in pay for low- and middle-income workers, as the Government proposes, we would help small businesses, exporters and inward investors by forcing down high prices for rent, electricity, transport and professional services.
Our plan to tackle youth unemployment forms part of Fine Gael’s Jobs and Competitiveness strategy alongside our NewERA plan to provide an €18 billion stimulus to the economy by retooling or selling off some of the existing semi-state companies and by setting up new ones to invest in broadband, green energy and water, A Fresh Start for Jobs and Small Business our eighteen point plan to reduce the cost of doing business, and our proposal to establish a National Recovery Bank to get credit flowing to business and consumers. To cut the cost of labour we have recently proposed a Jobs Tax Cut which involves reducing both rates of employers PRSI which we estimate will create or save an additional 30,000 jobs
Our objectives are two-fold:
• To reduce the numbers of young people signing on to the live register by one third over the next year; and
• To ensure that young people who are not in work, education and training do not become a lost generation but instead are provided with the skills and tools they need to take up employment when the recovery comes