Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Dara Calleary TD has accused the Government of trying to win over votes in the SME sector after ignoring small businesses for the past four years.  Fine Gael is planning to unveil new measures next week aimed at winning over small and medium businesses ahead of the General Election.

Deputy Calleary commented, “Fine Gael’s election machine is moving up a gear and is now beginning to target areas which it has been ignoring over the past four years.  Now the Taoiseach and Minister Richard Bruton is trying to win over the business community which is has so badly neglected.

“Since coming into office this Government has doubled employers PRSI, abolished redundancy rebates for employers and stood on the side of the banks over the issue of access to credit.  Now it’s trying to backpedal on these regressive measures and come up with some sweeteners to buy back the confidence which it has lost.

“This Government’s entire focus has been on FDI and high end skilled labour, while ignoring indigenous family run businesses across the country, which are the lifeblood of many communities.  While the FDI investment is welcome, the trend has been towards the larger cities and towns, with rural Ireland losing out.  The recent report by the Nevin Institute confirmed this, revealing that 94% of jobs created in the last year were in Dublin and the eastern region.

“Fianna Fáil has brought forward a number of proposals aimed at easing the pressure on SME, all of which, up until now, have been ignored by this Government.  As part of our pre-Budget submission for 2015 we proposed extending social welfare protection to self-employed people, a measure the Government now appears to be adopting and claiming credit for.

“The Government’s efforts to re-address the balance of their FDI crusade over the last four years to focus on the SME sector smacks of blatant electioneering.  Many of the promises Fine Gael made before the last election now ring hollow.  There is a real need to promote and support SMEs in order to encourage more people into to set up their own businesses.  However, I fear this plan is nothing more than a hollow document designed to secure votes and win over a neglected electorate”.