Governments economic policy is driven by bailouts – BREEN

July 9th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Contribution to Fine Gael Private Members Motion on the Economy – Wednesday, 7th July 2010

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this motion and commend my colleague, Deputy Michael Noonan, on bringing it forward. Claims that the recession in this country is over are premature, given that some 450,000 people are now registered as unemployed, the highest level of unemployment in our history.

In County Clare, some 46 people a day have lost their jobs over the past two years. GDP grew by 2.7% in the first quarter of year, mainly due to the increased export output of our multinationals. However, four businesses have gone to the wall every day for the first six months of this year in Ireland. Some 28 of those businesses are in my constituency in County Clare.

Business people are very fearful of the future. This week in Ennis pedestrianisation of the town was abandoned following the experience of local businesses in the O’Connell Street, Abbey Street and Bank Place areas of the town, which witnessed a dramatic drop in sales during the previous six-week trial period. On top of that, there has been a 17% drop experienced by all retail businesses since the beginning of the year.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of small businesses and we were promised when the Government signed a blank cheque to bail out the banks that increased cash flow would result. That has not happened, not even a trickle. In fact, the taxpayer will end up footing the bill for all the billions which have been invested in the bailouts although there will be no bailout for the ordinary man and woman on the street. The proposals made yesterday to help home owners in trouble fall well short of what is required.

Encouraging home owners to hand back the keys of their homes and to sign onto the social housing lists at a time when cash strapped local authorities are dealing with an unprecedented demand for housing shows exactly how out of touch this Government has become. There are 2,500 families on the social housing list in County Clare alone, for example, and I am interested in hearing how the Government plans to fund this additional demand for housing.

The Government’s economic recovery plan is failing because it is driven by bailouts. My party in government will get the country back to work, and I hope our opportunity comes sooner rather than later.