North Tipperary county councillors have called for Government measures to protect existing jobs following claims at its May meeting that the domestic economy is “on its knees”.
“We all welcome job creation, but there is not enough talk about job preservation. It is vital to improve domestic demand,” Cllr Seamus Hanafin (pictured) said.
His comments came after Cllr Phyll Bugler had called on the council to write to Ballina-based Technopath, which announced 45 new jobs at the end of May, to congratulate them on their investment.
Cllr Hanafin said he knew of five businesses in the Thurles area that had been operating for 25 years and had now closed.
He urged that the council write to the Department of Finance to see what could be done for local businesses.
“The VAT rate has increased to 23 per cent and that has killed the economy. Retailers and businesses are under severe pressure. We need to get credit flowing,” he said.
The Fianna Fail councillor revealed that he knew of one start-up company that had received a letter of credit providing they were up-and-running within 90 days, but, he pointed out, it took more than 90 days for planning permission to be granted by the council.
Cllr Hanafin suggested that the council’s commercial rate be cut to help businesses, but that a difference should be made between “those who can’t pay and those who won’t pay”.
He was supported by Cllr Jim casey, who said it was “important to do something for the local economy. We should be doing something positive to protect the jobs we have.”
He urged the council to look at its tendering process, saying he knew of a case in which a local business that pays E12,000 a year in rates was ignored in favour of a company located elsewhere.
“It is our responsibility to keep employment in our own county and not let it go elsewhere,” he declared.
Cllr John Hogan called for the Government to “go back to Europe and tell them austerity is not working”, while Cllr Phyll Bugler said they “needed to work with existing businesses to see what we can do to help”.
Independent Cllr Jim Ryan said he knew of businesses around Thurles that were suffering with cashflow because they can’t get money in and the banks wont’s extend credit.
Calling for a reduction in VAT, he said the cut in VAT for restaurants had worked as those businesses were now thriving.
Fine Gael’s Cllr Pauline Coonan agreed.
“There is a vibrancy around restaurants. We now need to look at tourism” she said, calling on Minister for Transport and Tourism Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan to scrap the E10 airport tax completely because Shannon Airport had been “decimated” over the years.
Labour’s Cllr John Kennedy, supporting Cllr Hanafin’s call to write to the Department of Finance, said the council had reduced its development levies.
Mayor Micheal Lowry agreed that he and the executive would work on the wording of a letter to be sent to the Department of Finance.