Kenny pledges to build on Ireland's reputation for supporting business
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied that he has failed in his 2011 election target of making Ireland "the best small country in the world to do business".
The World Bank's most recent 'Doing Business' report has placed Ireland in 13th position out of 189 countries.
The Government's new enterprise policy has a key objective of "achieving and retaining a top-three competitiveness ranking" by 2020.
Asked whether this meant that he had not succeeded in his previously stated aim, Mr Kenny said: "We're not at number one, but we've moved a long way from where we were.
"This plan and the next period of Government give us an opportunity to be very near the top," said the Taoiseach at the launch of 'Enterprise 2025' in Dublin.
He added: "I've no doubt when I see all of the young people in so many places around the country, and that imagination and creativity is going to lead Ireland to be very high on that ladder, if not number one, by the end of the next term."
The document sets out a target of having 2.18 million people in work, with 221,300 new jobs to be created over the next five years.
Mr Kenny said that if it was re-elected, the Government would work to ensure full employment. This meant everybody having jobs apart from 5pc-6pc of the eligible workforce.
"We expect to achieve that in the lifetime of the next government," he said - but wouldn't set a limit on the number of jobs that could be created.
Enterprise 2025 puts the emphasis on trying to address unemployment outside Dublin.
"Ireland has the potential to see regional unemployment rates no higher than one percentage point away from the national employment rate by 2020," it says.
Three key areas are identified as needing particular attention:
- Creating a step-change in the performance of our enterprises.
- Building a real and distinctive competitive edge and differentiating Ireland's offering.
- Excelling in creating a jobs-fit environment and getting the basics right.
The plan targets export growth of 6pc-8pc each year and an increase in the number of start-ups by 25pc each year.
Mr Kenny said: "Enterprise 2025 is a blueprint on how to rebuild a sustainable economy, sector by sector."
The launch was also attended by Tánaiste Joan Burton, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and junior ministers Ged Nash and Damien English.
Ms Burton noted the 1,000 new jobs announced by Apple in Cork, saying that this gave a boost to the entire city.
"Because behind the numbers are real lives, real communities - and good jobs are central to people and communities thriving," she said.
"Our aim will be to ensure that there is an apprenticeship, training place or college place for every young person who wants one."
However, Fianna Fáil's spokesman on Jobs and Enterprise, Dara Calleary, said the latest government enterprise strategy was just another rehash of existing policy.
He added: "There are many lofty targets in 'Enterprise 2025' - published on the eve of a general election.
"Nothing in this document is new and it continues the Government's failure to recognise the two-tiered economy which it has encouraged through its policies."