Taoiseach plays down job creation scheme
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny last night moved to dampen expectations that next week's jobs initiative will be a catch-all solution to the dole queues.
The initiative, which has already been downgraded from a planned 'jobs budget', will be announced in the Dail on Tuesday by Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
The announcement of a date for the plan comes as Mr Kenny flies to New York this evening to meet potential investors into Ireland and leaders of the Irish-American community.
The Taoiseach said yesterday that the Government's jobs plan had to operate within economic "constraints".
"I stress the fact -- and I make no bones about this -- that this isn't going to solve all of Ireland's unemployment problems over night," Mr Kenny told the Dail.
Next Tuesday's job measures will be fiscally neutral -- meaning that any new spending will have to be balanced by further cuts or taxes -- and will contain specific details about exactly how everything will be paid for, he said.
A reduction in the rate of employers' PRSI, the introduction of a partial loan-guarantee scheme and the reversal of the cut in the minimum wage are expected to feature.
Mr Kenny's move to play down expectations was matched by Mr Noonan, who said the jobs initiative was not going to be a huge Government stimulus because the resources for this were not available.
He said it would be morale- and confidence-building but stressed that it would not amount to a "huge spend".
Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald grilled the Taoiseach on what "cutbacks" or "adjustments" would be required to pay for the jobs initiative, but Mr Kenny did not provide specifics.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin claimed that the initiative had been "over-hyped" by Fine Gael during the general election campaign and that many elements of the initiative were being "rebranded" or "reannounced".
But Mr Kenny said it would provide a much-needed stimulus, inject confidence and encourage employers to create new jobs.
And he claimed that his was the first government in the history of the State to undertake a "really serious comprehensive analysis of how taxpayers' money is being spent".
"The situation that the country finds itself in is challenging but not hopeless," Mr Kenny added.
His comments came as the employers' group IBEC called for the jobs initiative to include reform of state services, changes to wage rules and a loan scheme for small business.
Mr Kenny is to fly to New York this afternoon, where he will attend a reception at the Irish consulate this evening.
The Taoiseach's spokesman said Mr Kenny would embark tomorrow on an intense day of meetings with investors and Enterprise Ireland and IDA companies on Wall Street.
He added that Mr Kenny would be stressing the Government's commitment to maintaining the 12.5pc corporation tax rate in the face of pressure from the EU to increase it.
Mr Kenny will also tell the companies that "Ireland is open for business" and that the Government had finally got to the bottom of the problems in the banking sector.