Jobs top agenda for FF - Ahern


FIANNA Fail plans to reduce long term unemployment to 20,000 if it is elected its leader Bertie Ahern said yesterday.

Speaking to the Tallaght South Dublin chamber of commerce, Mr Ahern set out the basics of his party's manifesto.

He told the audience that Fianna Fail would be proposing a local employment service. Its aim would be to reduce long term unemployment to 20,000 over six years.

A key part of this plan would be to ensure there are industrial sites available in deprived areas, such as Tallaght. The plan was to achieve this by introducing accelerated tax depreciation for factory building where development land was available.

Companies would be allowed to write off the cost of any factory against their taxable profits.

Mr Ahern also called on the Government to start reducing the national debt of £30 billion. "The area of public expenditure which could most easily be reduced is the £2.3 billion a year we spend on the service of the public debt," he said.

He added that changes were needed to make employment more attractive both to the employer and to the potential employee.

"If we want to keep inflation and wage rises down, so that our companies are competitive, then it is important that, within the framework of social partnership, income gains are provided through lower taxation," he said.

He added that benefits such as medical cards would be retained for those moving from welfare to work and incentives would be provided for employers to take on the long term unemployed.