Dáil Éireann - Volume 609 - 02 November, 2005
Written Answers. - Economic Competitiveness.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
128. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the recommendations contained in the Enterprise Strategy Group’s Ahead of the Curve report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31639/05]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin: Earlier this year the Government considered and endorsed the report of the high level committee that was asked to look at the most appropriate implementation arrangements for the enterprise strategy group’s, ESG, recommendations. The Government is broadly supportive of the policy directions recommended by the ESG as underlined by its intention to implement, either in full or with some modifications, most of the its recommendations. The Government's response to the ESG report can be found on my Department’s website.
The most important overall theme to emerge from the ESG’s analysis and policy recommendations is that we are broadly on the right track as regards the right mix and focus of enterprise support policies. These will also improve the competitiveness of the economy and sustain growth.
The central theme of the ESG recommendations concerns a strategic evolution to a more competitive, innovative and knowledge centred economy. To help create quality and sustainable employment we have to make sure Ireland continues to be an attractive place in  which to invest and from which to undertake increasingly profitable business. The ESG’s report makes a valuable contribution to embedding strategies appropriate to the new realities and challenges facing the Irish economy. The ESG policy prescriptions are particularly relevant to my Department and the enterprise support agencies that report to me.
As part of the ESG implementation process some significant progress has been made in making important strategic changes to enterprise support policies and how they will deliver real and tangible benefits to SMEs. Already I have agreed a fundamental reorganisation of Enterprise Ireland that will change its operational engagement with indigenous firms.
Many ESG’s recommendations involve new programmes that are either being designed for pilot testing or have been launched. Others will follow over the coming months so that each recommendation is carefully implemented to achieve measurable targets with a defined target group. For example, I recently launched the One Step Up programme that is an initial response to the ESG proposals about a continuous upgrading of our labour force skills.
I recently announced the business representatives of the enterprise advisory group. That group will advise me on progress in implementing the enterprise strategy group’s recommendations. The advisory group will also involve the Secretaries General from a number of Departments and I will listen carefully to the group in preparing a periodic report to Government on the pace and progress in implementing the ESG recommendations.
Mr. Hayes Mr. Hayes
129. Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress of implementation of the National Competitiveness Council’s various recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31640/05]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin: The recommendations and policy options highlighted by the NCC each year inform Government policy across a range of areas and have been implemented by a number of Departments. For example, in line with previous NCC recommendations the Government has introduced two consecutive non-inflationary budgets, a 20% research and development tax credit and has extended the business expansion and seed capital schemes until the end of 2006. The Government has also established a system of competitive funding for research developed under the programme for research in third level institutions, PRTLI, and has put in place procedures for the roll-out of national broadband infrastructure.
 My Department is preparing a report to Government outlining progress to date in relation to the implementation of the council’s most recent recommendations. It is intended that this report will be presented to Government for its consideration before the end of the year.
Dáil Éireann 609 Written Answers. Economic Competitiveness.