Monday, March 1, 2010

Is pro-business anti worker?

Michael Hennigan has a very nice financial news aggregator site called FinFacts. Today he has IBEC in his sights and castigates them for fearing radical reform not because such reform would lead to chaos but simply because they are too entrenched in the old way of doing things to be able to react purposefully in the new economic environment we live. IBEC issued a new business survey result today which shows most Irish companies believe that the Public Service Procurement sector in sth. Ireland is dysfunctional. When asked to rate the process of selling goods and services to the Public sector 56% of companies stated it as poor. And this is no small slice of pie. Last year it was €16 billion euros.

Hennigan describes the Public Procurement process in south Ireland as of the Victorian era with generally no transparency.

Mary Coughlan is apparently trying to do something about this issue. While her commentary on it might be colourful I don't think it will be useful.

It might be more useful if she packed up her bags.

Sinn Fein has been focussing on this issue for quite a while and has called for  procurement exercises to be split so as to allow smaller companies the opportunity to win contracts, safe guard jobs and keep local economies going and its tried to help small businesses get educated on what opportunities exist.
And its clear that they need this help. 55 per cent of businesses were refused bank funding in the three months to the end of February, compared to 42 per cent who were did not get credit facilities in the three months to the end of October. Quite a sharp rise Mar-May 2008 when only 20 per cent of SMEs who applied for funding were refused credit.
So much for NAMA helping small businesses, so much for the govt. trying to develop indigenous Irish firms so as to avoid the over-reliance on multi-nationals.
And so much for ISME and IBEC which have failed to deliver for small Irish business women and men who are going to the wall at a huge rate and who cant get credit but somehow or other are supposed to create jobs through exports.
A friend once mentioned in passing that a left wing party should have nothing to do with businesses, that we should focus solely on the workers and not push policies that are targeted at helping businesses.
Yet these businesses give jobs to our communities and give people the opportunity to live in their own home towns etc. if they wish.
As a left wing party we have to support small businesses. We have to ensure jobs are provided to ordinary people.
Pushing supports for businesses is not a rocky road to neo-liberalism. It's the only road to keeping our communities working and living in Ireland.
None of these supports precludes us from building on and defending workers rights.


  1. Hi Giorra.
    Just spotted this interesting post. I think that if the Gov uses taxpayers money to support business small or large the state should then own a share commensurate with the investment. What do you think?

  2. Hi Red,

    Yeah definitely. If the tax payer puts money into a concern then it should get something out of it. the opposite of the Nama farce where we should put in something and are expected to get nothing.

    I think of 2 types of govt, investement - the first where the state owns the company to provide a good/service that cannot be provided in a manner that develops and improves society (broad definition i know); and secondly might be one where the state invests as straight investment.

    Rightfully when the govt invests money into the provision of a service, through a state owned company, for the public benefit then the state should retain ownership and should of course be able to have a sufficient level of general taxation to continue to provide that service to a high standard. The alternative is that we end up like America with its decaying infrastructure.

    Also the govt. could invest solely as a speculative investor looking to help startups in a new sector develop etc. Maybe then that would be the govt. as a silent investor looking to recoup investment over a longer term (but still looking to recoup investment). But that would see the govt. less involved in the running of the company and in some companies, and for the provision of some services its not required to be involved.

    I wonder red is the best way of doing such an investment programme with commensurate state ownership via something like the old ICC or ACC and have successful businesses.

    My only concern with all these investments is summed up in one word - responsibility. Presently the southern state seems incapable of appointing people to state entities (docklands, FAS) who are responsible to the state. Indeed even the ministers appointing them are not responsible for anything either - look at Mary Harney.