Michael Noonan's plan to get Ireland working
Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced a major boost to the Irish tourism sector today with a series of targetted initiatives as part of the Government's much anticipated jobs plan.
The abolition of air tax, the creation of a tourism marketing fund and a VAT reduction from 13.5pc to 9pc on a range of tourism related goods and services until the end of 2013, were revealed.
He said that the plan was the first step to improve economic competitiveness and it was about encouraging employment.
Among the initiatives being pushed through by the government are:
- a reversal of the minimum wage cut from July 1
- a halving of employers' PRSI for lower paid workers earning less than €365 per week
- and the setting up of a national internship programme paying participants €50 a week on top of unemployment benefits.
The new internship programme will cost €11m in 2011 and signalled a substantial and meaningful commitment, the Minister said.
There will also be 20,000 places available for people who want to get back into education or avail of training.
Minister Alan Shatter will be making changes to the visa system to enable visitors to come to Ireland more easily.
There will be €30m for school building programmes and an expanded energy retrofitting plan.
A 0.6pc levy is to be imposed on private pension funds for the next four years to fund the jobs initiative.
Minister Noonan said he was aware that there were concerns in the pensions sector about the levy, but it was not permanent and would raise €470m a year. He choose to impose the levy as increases in tax would be more damaging to the economy.
In relation to the VAT reduction he said it would be a temporary measure that would be kept under review. It includes restaurants, hotels, theatres, cinemas, sports meetings, newspapers, magazines, golfing fees and hairdressing.
The plan also revealed a fund of €75m reallocated for transport projects aimed at creating at least 1,000 new jobs and €15m for improvements to rail stations, pedestrian crossings, footpaths, bus networks, and cycle ways.
The long term unemployed who number about half of the 440,000 on the Live Register, were top of the agenda when the Minister took to his feet in the Dail at 5pm.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has already announced details of a finders’ fee scheme that offers members of the Irish diaspora €3,000 if they create a new job that lasts at least two years.
However, entrepreneur Jerry Kenelly, founder of tweak.com said today that that the plan was ‘bonkers’ and said that people like himself and members of the diaspora are doing this anyway, not for a €3,000 incentive.
“Moves that are needed are a lot simpler. There are lots of jobs and no efficient market place to find talent. A national jobs register is not an expensive thing to set up and gives an opportunity for people to make themselves available for internships,” he said.
Mr Kenelly added that there is currently a disconnect between the education system and what is available. “In reality there is a global shortage of talent, particularly in technology,” he said.
Today's jobs package will be paid for through a €500m tax on pension funds, which will be counterbalanced by tax relief on contributions to private pension funds.
The coalition is hoping the plan will act as a vote of confidence for consumers and businesses as well as encouraging employers to employ more staff.