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Innovative cash for Science and Technology
Wed 15 Oct 2008 01:12 am filed by the Editor - Ireland
Additional funding provided for small businesses and for FAS Employment Programmes Competition Authority and National Consumer Agency to merge
Mary Coughlan, T.D. today (Tuesday, 14th October 2008) endorsed the 2009 Budget as a balanced and decisive response to the downturn in the global economy.
"The events which we have witnessed over the last few weeks on the international money markets have been characterised by a loss of confidence in financial systems," the Tanaiste said. "In the wake of recent international events, the Government was faced with making difficult choices in the Budget. However, the choices which were made show leadership and will stabilise Government borrowing and restore confidence in our economy both nationally and internationally. They will also protect the most vulnerable in our society."
The Tánaiste continued: "We have sent out a message that Ireland is still open for business, in spite of the current difficulties that are shared world-wide. We have shown this by continuing to invest in priority areas that will stand to us when the economic cycle turns around."
Estimate for Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Commenting on her Department's Estimates for 2009, which were published in parallel with the Budget, the Tánaiste said: "My Department and its agencies will play an important role in working through the current economic circumstances, and in making sure that we are well positioned to reap the benefits that will undoubtedly arise when the situation improves. We will do this by continuing to work to attract foreign direct investment, by helping Irish businesses to develop and grow their exports, by continuing to prioritise investment in science, technology and innovation, and by providing supports to small businesses. We will also ensure that adequate re-training and support services are available for those who have recently lost their jobs."
The 2009 Estimate for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment amounts to €1.951 billion.
"This level of funding will allow me to prioritise spending in a balanced and responsible way to ensure that the economy gets the best return for the level of resources available and that we stimulate the productive sector of the economy in a positive way."
€10.4 million extra funding for Science and Technology
Capital funding for Science, Technology and Innovation programmes in 2009 will increase by €10.4 million, or 3.5%, compared to 2008, reflecting the importance of this priority for the Government.
"This level of support sends a clear signal to Irish business that the Government is continuing to support their efforts to develop new products, to stay competative and win new markets," the Tanaiste said.
She continued: "The enhancements to the tax credits for Research and Development announced by the Minister for Finance are also a sign of the Government's commitment in this area. The R&D tax credit which can be offset against a company's corporation tax liability has been increased from 20% to 25%. This measure will enhance our competitiveness as a location for new internationally mobile research-related investment, and also encourage existing overseas and indigenous firms to add research functions to their operations in Ireland or to increase their level of research activity.
Continuing to support Enterprise Development
The Tánaiste added: "Key priorities for the Government in current economic climate are to enhance the reputation of Ireland as a location for foreign direct investment and to continue to support indigenous companies."
"The fundamental objective is to sustain and grow employment by driving investment and promoting export growth in a challenging global environment. Success in overseas markets will generate wealth that will sustain prosperity and employment throughout all parts of the country."
"The allocations in my Department's Estimates for 2009, particularly to the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, will ensure that we continue to build on this strategy for the future."
Funding for Small Business up 9% to €34.8 million
Supports for small business, through the County and City Enterprise Boards, will increase next year by almost €3 million, or 9%, to €34.8 million and this represents a further indication of the Governments commitment to supporting this sector of business.
Commenting on the increase, the Tánaiste said "Small and medium sized businesses account for over 97% of companies in Ireland and the sector employs in excess of 800,000 people."
"The County and City Enterprise Boards have developed a structure capable of generating and tapping into enterprise at local level. They have been particularly effective in their ability to respond to the needs of micro-enterprise. The 2009 allocation for the CEBs recognises the need for access to practical business information and supports for small companies, and the importance of continuing to promote entrepreneurship at this time."
"The tax relief measures for start up businesses by way of remission in corporation tax and Capital Gains Tax in the first 3 years for new and start-up businesses announced by the Minister for Finance today will also help to grow small business and promote an entrepreneurial culture.
€1.083 billion for Labour Market programmes
Referring to recent labour market trends, the Tánaiste said "In spite of the need to introduce a tough Budget today, the Government has take care to protect those who are most vulnerable in our society. We recognise, in particular, the impact which unemployment has on individuals, their families and their communities."
"It is important that we continue to invest in our people, that we continue to upskill those in employment and that we provide support services and re-training for those who have lost their job. Above all, we must prevent the drift into long-term unemployment and avoid a return to the structural unemployment that we witnessed in the 1980s."
The Tánaiste continued: "Total investment in labour force development in my Department's Estimate for 2009 will amount to €1.083 billion, or 56% of my total budget."
Merger of the Competition Authority and National Consumer Agency
In outlining the details of her Department's Estimate for 2009, the Tánaiste also announced her plans to merge the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency.
"Competition and consumer policies are highly complementary and share a common goal of enhancing consumer welfare", the Tánaiste said.
"The merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency will ensure improved co-ordination of these two policy areas. Enforcing both competition and consumer laws will give the newly merged body synergies and efficiencies in carrying out its functions."
Details of the merger will be worked upon over the coming months by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, in consultation with the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency.
The Tánaiste concluded: "We are facing into difficult and uncertain times. However, with the spending estimates published today allied to the measures announced by the Minister in his Budget speech, this Government has demonstrated its commitment to enhancing the prospect of business and promoting the productive sector of the economy. This demonstrates real leadership and should give us confidence for the future."