Friday 23 August 2019

Richard Bruton: Let's never return to property boom fuelled by debt

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton at the launch of Enterprise 2025
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton at the launch of Enterprise 2025

Richard Bruton

After years of bad choices and bad policies that destroyed our economy, we can now say something quite bold: we know we have the jobs policy mix right. The question is, can we keep the right mix and build on our recent successes?

In reality, the right mix seems quite obvious: we're a small open economy without huge piles of natural resources, big armies or colonial legacies to fall back on, so we only have one credible, sustainable option.

The only way Ireland's economy can survive and thrive is by being competitive, being creative and by making brilliant products and services that people outside Ireland want to buy. Simple, really. Unfortunately, not so simple for all.

Twice in my life this truth about our economy was forgotten. In the most recent crash, we were told building houses and apartments and selling them to ourselves was a sustainable economic model. Warnings were ignored and everyone learned an expensive and painful lesson when that policy fallacy was exposed.

I am determined that we must never - ever - as a country forget this lesson of the recent crisis.

That's what is really behind the Enterprise 2025 strategy launched yesterday. It is a very ambitious strategy, and I'm unapologetic about that.

We want to have more people in work by 2020 than we have ever had in the history of the State. More than that, we want to keep our economy at a full employment level for the foreseeable future. Not by a debt-fuelled property boom, but through Irish enterprises becoming more competitive, becoming more productive and becoming more innovative.

Thankfully, this strategy builds on the successes we have had in this area already.

We started the Action Plan for Jobs process in 2012 and said we could deliver 100,000 extra people in work by 2016.

Many scoffed at the ambition, but I said the only way we could rebuild our economy was by delivering each year a series of improvements to help Irish enterprise. Each year actions are agreed, tracked, monitored and delivered. And then we go again the next year and try to do more. And the result? According to the CSO, 126,000 extra jobs were created by the middle of 2015 - over target and ahead of schedule.

With the right policy mix, the right focus and the determined delivery of a coherent plan, the potential for our economy is huge. That is why Enterprise 2025 sets such ambitious targets - we know we have the right policy mix and the structures to deliver them, which allows Irish workers and entrepreneurs to win new markets and create more jobs.

Let's not get in their way, let's not go back to boom and bust.

Richard Bruton is Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Irish Independent

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