Measures will boost trade and jobs, says O'Keeffe
THE Government has produced a Budget for jobs and export-led growth, according to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, Batt O'Keeffe.
He said the measures will help to underpin a return to economic growth despite criticism from the business sector that it missed an opportunity to restart the economy.
Minister O'Keeffe said he has prioritised the operating budgets for IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland so they can support the creation of up to 30,000 jobs in 2011.
The €508m capital investment for these agencies will allow the Government to continue to win foreign direct investments, grow indigenous exports and create high-quality sustainable jobs in the smart economy, according to the Minister.
The stimulus measures, including changes to the Business Expansion Scheme to encourage businesses to create new jobs, the reduction in the air travel tax, the retrofit programme, and the extensions of the corporation tax exemption for new firms, PRSI exemption scheme and car scrappage scheme, would generate jobs and growth in the domestic economy.
It also includes an expanded work placement scheme that could help up to 15,000 individuals to re-train and gain experience in the public and private sectors.
Up to 5,000 skills development and work internship programmes are to be created in the private sector.
Employers who participate in the scheme will provide a contribution towards the cost of the placements and will receive job creation incentives through the employer job (PRSI) incentive scheme, which will be extended until the end of 2011.
The changes to the Business Expansion Scheme are pending approval from Europe.
"The BES has evolved and the main thing now is for job creation. Details of the new scheme are to be finalised but we expect approval from Brussels" the Minister said.
The internship programme was welcomed by the employers' lobby IBEC. It is a good idea, it said, and will help get graduates connected to employment opportunities and limit the increase in emigration.
The Budget balances the need to broaden the tax base while at the same time protecting the enterprise community, Mr O Keeffe said.
The enterprise economy remains resilient, he said, with the export sector performing well and expected to increase by 5pc next year.
"Foreign direct investments are continuing to grow and we are pricing ourselves back into the global marketplace by dramatically improving our competitiveness.''
The minister said that Ireland was still viewed as a good location for international industries and that the country's reputation had not been damaged by the financial and banking crisis
Mr O'Keeffe claimed the Budget was tough, but fair.
"This Budget is the most challenging in the history of the State and we must all work together to return to sustainable economic growth, keep people in jobs and get more of our people back to work,'' he added.