Speaking following today’s announcement of the Government Jobs Initiative Sinn Fein Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has said that “the proposals outlined by Minister Noonan today will not only fail to create employment, but have the potential to further depress consumer spending and lead to an increase in unemployment”.
Deputy Doherty called for a, “€2.9billion stimulus package to kick start the economy, saving and creating 75,000 jobs in coming 12 months.”
Deputy Doherty said: “The proposals outlined by Minister Noonan in his jobs initiative today will not only fail to create employment, but have the potential to further depress consumer spending and lead to an increase in unemployment.
“While the substance of the Governments proposals deal with issues of wage costs and training the real question many people will be asking is “where are the jobs?” Unfortunately like the Programme for Government, the initiative contains no job creation targets.
“While the Government proposes spending €135 million on capital projects, €106 of this is from existing allocations. This means there will only be an additional €29 million of additional expenditure in this area.
“Considering the level of immediate job growth that could be delivered in this area the Governments unwillingness to significantly increase investment in labour intensive capital projects is nothing short of scandalous.
“The same can be said with respect to the 20,900 new training places promised today. While welcome, they are a far cry from the 60,000 education, training and work placements promised by both Government parties during the general election campaign. The fact that the total additional expenditure in this area is a meagre €29 million speaks for itself.
“The most troubling aspects of the proposals today are those relating to wage costs. The government has once again signalled its intention to force down the cost of labour, whether through an assault on the 300,000 low paid workers covered by the JLCs, the cuts to PRSI contributions for those on low wages and cuts to social welfare payments.
“Reducing the income of these people will not only increase levels of economic hardship and poverty but will have a devastating impact on thousands of small and medium sized local businesses who depend on the spending power of lower income earners to survive.
“Sinn Fein believes that they only way to get the economy back on track is to invest in a major stimulus package. Our proposals aim to save and create jobs, assist small and medium sized businesses, help hard pressed families and boost consumer spending.
“A stimulus in the order of €2.9 billion over the next 12 months is not only affordable, but is urgently needed if we are to break the downward spiral created by Fianna Fail’s policies of austerity now followed by Fine Gael and Labour.
“Such a stimulus would not only get people back to work, it would also assist in reducing the deficit by increasing tax revenue and reducing social welfare expenditure.
“Sinn Fein would use €2 billion from the National Pension Reserve fund to fast track labour intensive infrastructure projects. These would include school and hospital building, upgrading water infrastructure, developing public transport networks and rolling out State wide broadband services.
“Sinn Fein would also inject a further €500 million into the economy in the form of a family stimulus package funded through additional tax revenue. The aim of this package of measures is to reverse some of the heavy burden placed on working families and those on social welfare by the last government and in doing so to boost consumer spending.
“In addition to this family stimulus package, we would also immediately abolish the Universal Social Charge releasing a further €400 million of spending power back into the local economy.
“Sinn Fein has consistently argued that the Government can not cut is way out of the recession. The only way to reduce the deficit and return to positive growth is by investing in jobs, boosting consumer spending and strengthening the local economy.
“The policies of austerity implemented by Fianna Fail and now supported by Fine Gael and Labour are not working. We need a new approach. Sinn Fein believes that investment in jobs to kick start the economy is the only credible alternative.”