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Selling the job creation idea will be Noonan's big challenge

Expect to hear a few buzzwords in next week's Budget speech by Michael Noonan. "Fairness" will certainly feature a lot, "broadening of the tax base" is going to be there too, "recovery" is a no-brainer, and "domestic economy" will be in the mix.

The small and medium enterprise sector will be a key plank of the Government's plan to create jobs. Taoiseach Enda Kenny has spoken of making Ireland the best small country in the world to do business in. But he has a lesser known mantra about how if every business took on just one more worker, then it would make inroads into the dole queues.

The question of companies taking on extra workers came up when Jobs Minister Richard Bruton was doing his Action Plan for Jobs roadshow of meetings around the country. Business owners weren't aware there were supports in place for hiring extra staff in tight times. The schemes in place also seemed to be cumbersome.

Mr Bruton went off, took a look again at the incentives on offer and came up with more streamlined models.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is examining the options on the table and is expected to include the outcome in his Budget speech. The important part will be taking a simple plan and changing behaviour by actually selling the idea to employers of taking on another worker.

Obviously the level of assistance will be crucial but it's also about planting a seed in the heads of employers to add another staff member on to their books. The objective is to get as many long-term unemployed people off the dole queues as possible.

The Government is hoping to include a job creation package in its Budget to give some degree of hope in an otherwise pretty bleak event.

The €3.5bn adjustment is not going to be pretty and everybody in the country is going to be hit one way or another between increased taxes and spending cuts.

The Finance Minister teed up the mood yesterday.

"I think people are expecting a very tough Budget. I think that's the feel on the ground. But I want to assure everybody that while we have to make the adjustment that we have to make, it will be fair."

Irish Independent