Cantillon: Department of Finance turns to students for ideas

And the prize for the winning idea? An internship with the Department

The Department of Finance has decided to ask the State’s third-level students if they have any notions as to what the Government should do. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Department of Finance has decided to ask the State’s third-level students if they have any notions as to what the Government should do. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 00:59

It’s official. The Department of Finance has run out of ideas as to how the State should address what are among its greatest policy challenges: growing an economy that is overloaded with debt and reducing unemployment.

Not being prepared to give up just yet, however, the department’s secretary general, John Moran, has decided to ask the State’s young people if they have any notions as to what the Government could do.

Any youngster who does come up with a good idea will be offered a non-
permanent and non-pensionable nixer with the department during the summer hols.

Well, not quite.

The department, in association with the Trinity Economic Forum, has announced an economic policy competition open to all third-level students here.

The students are invited to submit their policy propositions, based on sound economic analysis, and the winner will be offered a summer internship with the department.

Students are asked to submit a 150-word summary with a supporting 1,500-word submission on one of two policy questions:
Ireland has emerged from the EU-IMF programme with a legacy of both high household and public debt. Bearing in mind the implications of elevated public and private indebtedness, what strategies can be deployed to encourage economic growth in Ireland?

The labour market response to the financial crisis has been particularly pronounced in Ireland relative to elsewhere in Europe.

Taking into account the existing policy measures available, what strategy would you propose to reduce the current rate of unemployment to a more normal level?

Submissions will be accepted between February 17th and March 14th.

The winner will be notified by way of a special national broadcast by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who will announce a new Government initiative that is obviously a cut and paste job from the winning submission.

The last bit’s not true.

Though you never know . . .