Government to slash number of enterprise boards and VECs
THE Government is hoping to save millions in administration costs by cutting the numbers of both County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Vocational Education Committees (VECs).
The moves will almost certainly lead to strong political, business and community protests from counties that lose boards and committees.
There are 35 county and city enterprise boards and 33 VECs. The intention is to reduce the numbers to around 20 each.
Separate proposals are being brought before the Cabinet by Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe and by Education Minister Mary Coughlan.
The budget for the CEBs, which provide support for the development and growth through capital grants, feasibility studies, information, advice, counselling and mentoring of enterprises with fewer than 10 staff, is €28m.
Since they were set up in 1993, they have been credited with creating 30,726 new jobs.
A spokesman for Mr O'Keeffe said that the minister believed that dedicated state support for the micro-enterprise sector should continue to be provided and such support should be delivered as close to the client as possible.
He confirmed that the minister was evaluating the appropriateness of the current structures of the 35 CEBs.
Meanwhile, the Irish Independent has learned that time ran out at last week's cabinet meeting for a discussion on the long-promised reduction in the number of VECs.
Almost certain to go are city committees such as Waterford, Limerick and Galway, where they will be amalgamated with the county committees.
The separate committees in Tipperary North Riding and South Riding are also likely to be amalgamated, while some county committees will be merged across county boundaries.
The Irish Vocational Education Association has argued strongly for the retention of the county VEC structure to retain the local voice in the management of vocational schools and community colleges.