Address by ISME chairman, James Coghlan, at the Association's Annual Conference 2015.
Competitiveness an ongoing threat to the economic recovery.
ISME chairman calls for full taxation equality for self-employed.
Addressing the 500 plus delegates at the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association'sAnnual Conference, held in the RDS, today (Friday 13th November), Chairman James Coghlan, called on Government to make SME growth a priority by addressing basic competitiveness. The Chairman warned that the recovery is currently in jeopardy due to rising costs, unrealistic wage pressures and pre-election uncertainty.
The ISME Chairman congratulated the many thousands of small and medium businesses who have weathered the storm of the recession and are now concentrating on growing their businesses. He drew particular attention to those brave entrepreneurs and local heroes who dared to set up a business during the downturn. "In the midst of the recession we heard much rhetoric about how the country needed more entrepreneurs to take a chance and help us to invest our way out of the crisis. So I'd like to congratulate those who stepped up and took that risk, they are owed a huge debt of gratitude for helping to create the economic revival", he said.
Making reference to the battle to retain competitiveness, Coghlan outlined, "As the election draws closer, we are sure to hear ambitious promises of a utopian society, giveaway social policies, with little thought for the cost on business. However, the real focus should be on improving our competitiveness and creating the type of business environment that will allow SMEs to grow. Jobs won't be created unless small businesses, the engine room of the economy, can afford to take on new staff and this won't happen as long as costs continue to rise."
"Improving competitiveness is also the key to building a stable export-led recovery. Much of the talk today amongst the business owners attending will be about the effect of a proposed Brexit and how this might affect their trading relationships. While this is an issue, our diminishing competitiveness is a far more pressing and urgent concern, when it comes to our exports."
On the tax discrimination against the self-employed, Coghlan said, "Our long ISME campaign to eliminate the tax discrimination against the self-employed has been a partial success. The basic premise is simple, we want equal taxes for equal pay. Minister Noonan made some concession towards this in Budget 2016, when he introduced a tax credit of €550 for the self-employed and stated an intent to increase it to equal the PAYE credit over time. We want to see the end of this discrimination in next year's budget, not in some distant unspecified time in the future. The taxation system is supposed to be built on fairness; this inequity cannot be allowed to continue".
"The ISME Annual Conference is a celebration of the positive contribution small and medium enterprises make to society and is also an invaluable opportunity for owner-managers to network, share experiences and learn from fellow business owners and world-class speakers. Hopefully, politicians and policy makers will listen, not only to the concerns we raise today, but also to the stories of success and job creation within the SME sector. They need to acknowledge the economic and social importance of the indigenous SME and make sure these businesses are given every opportunity to succeed", he concluded.