[Sinn Fein]

21st November 2002

Government policy unjust and inconsistent

Arthur Morgan Sinn Fein spokesperson on Environment and Local Government and Enterprise Trade and Employment said today that coalition failures in housing and investment in Irish Enterprise showed clearly the two tier nature of Government policy. Deputy Morgan said that government policy was entirely inconsistent and some people are now speculating that given the current shambles it could take 40 years to clear housing waiting lists. Deputy Morgan said:


``The Tiger Boom has come and gone but the housing crisis is still here and worse than ever. We still have rising house prices, rising rents, evictions, homelessness and a record 54,000 households waiting for social or public sector housing. In some scenarios it is estimated that it could take 40 years to clear housing waiting lists. Spending cutbacks, erratic implementation of the Planning Act 2000, the reintroduction last year of mortgage relief for second homes have all sent hugely conflicting messages.

The proposal to withdraw the first time buyers grant while leaving the second home mortgage relief in tact is fundamentally unjust and just the latest inconsistency. The first time buyers grant costs the exchequer ¤40 million year. Last year Minister McCreevy reinstated the mortgage relief for purchasers of second homes, giving an estimated ¤50 million tax break to house speculators.

Sinn Fein's housing recommendations include:

Investing in Irish Enterprise

A level playing pitch

Sinn Fein believes we need an economic development strategy that creates a balance between inward, indigenous investment and the social economy. We need to recognise that the bulk of employment stems from small and medium sized enterprises. At the same time more support is also needed for social economy enterprises that fulfil a societal need and often help make other businesses more profitable.

Rewarding R&D

We need to support and reward indigenous industry when it engages in research and development strategies leading to long-term sustainable employment with targeted and carefully monitored tax incentives

No cuts in job creation grants

At a time when we need to invest in indigenous industry and employment the funds for Enterprise Ireland, Shannon Development and County Enterprise Boards are to be cut by 18%, 30% and 13% respectively. Now is the time for innovative investment in developing Irish business not cutbacks. The IDA grants to industry are rising, yet the cost of a new job in an IDA backed company was ¤13,375 in 2001. The cost of an Enterprise Ireland job was ¤8,977 over ¤4,000 cheaper but still more costly than the ¤4,500 it took a County Enterprise Board to create a job.

Review and evaluate spending on job creation

Sinn Fein proposes a review of how funds are allocated by the Enterprise Trade and Employment Department. One example of the lack of accountability of spending is to failure to evaluate the actual costs of the 19 task forces created since 1997 by Mary Harney as minister. The government don t know how much the 19 task forces have cost and have not undertaken any cost benefit evaluation. Over ¤161 million was spent last year on job creation grants to industry. This is only part of a substantial economic development budget. We need to know that this money is being spent fairly and efficiently.

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