Kenny aims to replace jobs lost in recession by 2020

Taoiseach says borrowing can be eliminated, pledges major review of Government spending

Tue, Dec 17, 2013, 21:43

Mr Gilmore said the challenge for the Government was to create “real and sustainable jobs” based on an export-led economy unlike those which were created during the construction-led bubble economy of the Celtic Tiger.

Asked if the prediction of 3.5 per cent growth by 2014 was too ambitious, Mr Noonan insisted the estimates were prudent.

He said the Government’s own growth figure for 2014 was 2 per cent, while IBEC this week predicted a 2.8 per cent increase. He said he expected the ESRI forecast tomorrow to also be in the same general area.

Document: A Strategy for Growth

According to today's strategy, growth would exceed 3 per cent between 2017 and 2020 - the first time it has forecast out that far - and the Government would cut its debt to 93 per cent of GDP in 2020 from a peak of 124 per cent this year.

Mr Howlin said the indications coming from the Germany, Britain and the US suggested the economic landscape was “benign”.

When it was put to him that the forecasts for reduction in the number of people unemployed was modest in comparison to economic growth, Mr Noonan referred to more jobs being made available but not all of them being filled from the dole queues.

He pointed to increased immigration from Eastern Europe now that the economy was improving, as well as returning emigrants and those leaving school and college taking up work.

The document says the Government will monitor performance of relevant plans and initiatives on an on-going basis including through Cabinet Committees.

Last weekend, Ireland became the first euro zone member to successfully complete a bailout, after three years of monitoring by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

The Government has turned down a backup credit line with enough debt-market funding to cover costs until 2015.

It is now keen to prove to investors that it will maintain its fiscal prudence, while offering hope to the austerity-weary that the worst is over.

The plan has been met with a mixed response, with the Small Firms Association claiming it is short in detail. Acting director Avine McNally said: “It is vital that Government works with small business to put the right policies in place, as this vital sector will drive growth in the wider economy, more so than any other.

“The small business sector given the right economic conditions will generate the growth needed to create jobs and overcome our debt burden. Small business can lead the way in helping Ireland to recover faster and stronger.”

Trade union Siptu added that the strategy stops short of prescribing specific key actions in many areas. Economist Marie Sherlock said firm efforts need to be made for tackling household debt and job creation. “In that context, the plans to be published by the individual government departments in the New Year will be critical,” Ms Sherlock said

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