Next Government must prioritise SMEs - responsible for 9 out of every 10 new jobs created.
Politicians urged to 'Think Small First'.
At the launch of 'Priorities for the New Government' document today (18th April), ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association emphasised that a pro-enterprise Government and the creation of a truly entrepreneurial culture in Ireland are essential to restoring the economy and improving society.The Association called on the new administration to retain the role of small business minister and laid out the key areas which must be reformed during the next Dail term.
Commenting ISME Chief Executive, Mark Fielding said "Ireland will not secure a sustainable recovery without an economic recovery of SMEs, the backbone of our economy and our society. SMEs represent two thirds of employment and around 60% of turnover. Furthermore, SMEs have created nine out of every ten new jobs during the last five years and are the main drivers of innovation.
"We need more entrepreneurs and more entrepreneurial spirit in our society at large. The new Government must ensure a "cultural change" towards entrepreneurship, as the current culture often fails to recognise and reward entrepreneurial endeavours. SMEs must be at the centre of the Government's decision making process leading to a stronger indigenous sector and an economy that is not over-reliant on foreign direct investment."
"The first six months will set the tone for the new Dail and will provide an opportunity to build up early momentum and start to show an expectant country how political vision can be turned into reality. The new Government must use this time to focus on the issues affecting SMEs and lay out a programme for change."
"In essence this new Government must "Think Small First". If the next government creates the right environment, SME businesses will create jobs and sustainable growth", concluded Fielding.
The key priorities highlighted in the document are:
1. Retain the position of a Small Business Minister within the Enterprise Department.
2. End the tax discrimination against the self-employed and proprietary directors. SME ownermanagers pay more tax than their employees, despite the fact that they are the job-creators.
3. More employment could be created by reinstating the 4.25% rate of Employers’ PRSI.
4. High Capital Gains Tax rates are dissuading owner-managers from passing on their business through succession or sale and should be reduced to 10%.
5. ISME surveys show almost half of small business loan applications are refused. Improving SME Access to Finance must be a priority in the Programme for Government.
6. Prompt Payment legislation should be changed to make 30-day payments mandatory.
7. Business costs are rising, making it difficult for Irish businesses to compete. Government must address state influenced costs such as local authority rates and government taxes on transport.
8. The roll-out of adequate broadband to all areas should be an infrastructural priority.
9. Redundancy rebates must be reinstated.
10.The obstacles blocking SME access to Public Procurement must be removed.
11.Cut childcare costs. A second free pre-school year, and a €2,000 childcare subsidy for working parents of children aged between 9 months and 36 months in formal childcare settings
12.Increase funds allocated to SME management and employee training.
13.Carry out a Comprehensive Spending review in Public Service and introduce an Independent Public Sector Pay Commission.