The Government needs to come forward with an ambitious jobs strategy early in 2012 with specific job creation targets to tackle the country’s unemployment crisis, according to Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath.
Commenting on the end of year Live Register figures published today, Deputy McGrath stated, “The reduction in the Live Register, albeit a very modest one, is welcome news. However, unemployment remains the most serious crisis faced by the country at the present time. The increase to 42% in the number on the Live Register who are long-term unemployed is deeply worrying.
“2012 has to be the year that the Government puts supporting enterprise at the heart of every policy decision. An ambitious jobs strategy with clear targets must be brought forward early this year. Last May’s Jobs Initiative has failed to make any inroads into the number of people unemployed and further measures are now required.
“Budget 2012 contained many anti-business measures and it seems that more are in the pipeline, including the planned change to the arrangements for sick pay. The Economic and Fiscal Outlook published by the Government at Budget time actually predicts that employment will contract by 0.2% in 2012. This underlines the total lack of ambition in the Government’s efforts to tackle the unemployment crisis in a meaningful way.
“In our pre budget submission, Fianna Fáil proposed a number of measures aimed at fostering enterprise and job creation including:
- Establishment of an Economic Advisory Council drawn from the private sector
- Scrap private pension levy in favour of €5.6 billion investment stimulus over four years
- €250m more for capital expenditure in 2012 for labour intensive projects
- Incentivise new business start-ups by allowing a voluntary PRSI scheme for the self-employed
“There is real concern that we are facing further job losses in coming months as a direct result of measures taken in Budget 2012. For example, the retail sector will be hit particularly hard by the Government’s decision to front-load a 2% VAT increase this year.
“The Government is due to bring forward the first of its annual jobs plans shortly. This must set ambitious but achievable targets, and must be rigorously implemented. Fine Gael and Labour came to power on the back of grandiose promises about job creation and the 443,200 on the Live Register will now be expecting them to deliver.”