The two sitting Fine Gael TDs in Roscommon/South Leitrim this week appealed to the Government to act over feared job losses in this area in the New Year.
Fine Gael has proposed a new tax measure for employers to limit the damage and persuade employers to take on extra staff, according to local Deputy Frank Feighan.
“November saw the biggest ever monthly increase in the seasonally adjusted live register. A shocking 16,900 people lost their jobs in a single month, as did more than 106,000 people in the last 12 months. With unemployment up to 7.8 percent, Ireland has overtaken the EU average for the first time in a decade and is certain to hit eight percent by the end of the year. This isn’t just a crisis, it’s an emergency.
“Government seem paralysed by the soaring unemployment levels. In the midst of the recession, the Government should take a creative approach to prevent the economy from falling into a black hole in January. Yet neither the Taoiseach nor Minister Lenihan has offered any proposals to limit the damage.
“Fine Gael has already proposed a freeze for 2009 on the National Pay Deal plus increments with the money saved to be ploughed back into productive infrastructure investment and upskilling and retraining of our workers.”
In addition, Deputy Feighan is now proposing that employers be given an incentive to create new jobs in order to avert disaster in 2009. His proposal is that, for 2009, employers should be exempt from paying PRSI on any additional staff that they take on. “This would involve a minimal cost to the Exchequer, but would go a long way to minimising the impact of the recession. The Taoiseach and Minister Lenihan must give immediate consideration to this proposal,” said Deputy Feighan.
Meanwhile his colleague, Denis Naughten TD, has called on the Government to take immediate action to support local small businesses.
“Unless steps are taken now, many businesses will fold early in the New Year,” stated Deputy Naughten.
The Roscommon TD continued: “The local economy has lost 11 jobs every day since Brian Cowen became Taoiseach, and yet he and his Government have failed to take any decisive action to address the scale of these job losses.”
Addressing a public meeting in Athlone on Thursday evening, Denis Naughten said that this Government has failed to realise that employment in the small business sector is twice that of all those employed by the State and all employed by multinational companies in this country.
“We are in the grip of a credit famine and the Government decision to bring forward payment dates for capital gains tax and corporation tax will cost business an additional €240m in interest on overdrafts alone, never mind the cost of job losses,” stated Deputy Naughten.
“Ireland is now following a highly dangerous path of being the only country in Europe to massively raise taxes at what looks to be the beginning of the worst recession in my lifetime and Government action is undermining the ability of viable businesses to pay staff and suppliers.
“Finance Minister Brian Lenihan seems unaware of these problems. He has said that ‘the banks are very conscious of what is expected of them under the guarantee in so far as business lending is concerned’. But are the banks really conscious of it? They are not making money available to small businesses. “Businesses that have been in operation for up to 50 years, returned profits and survived through thick and thin have had their overdraft facilities slashed, are getting no access to credit and, if they do, it is at a high cost with terms and conditions.
“This will all hit home in January and February when the numbers on the live register go way up. Small businesses employ the majority of the workforce. The two or three employed in one business and the seven or eight employed in another, when combined, make up to 800,000 people. Many of these jobs will be gone in the New Year because businesses will not be able to continue unless some real action is taken.
“I am calling on the Government to focus grants and supports to protect the jobs currently in the SME sector; ensure the banking sector makes credit available to businesses; make professional advice available to small businesses to cover areas such as effective invoice-chasing, debt management, credit insurance, maximising cash flow, marketing and business plans and to live up to its responsibility to assist businesses with the help and advice they need,” concluded Deputy Naughten.