I propose to take Questions Nos. 13, 22, 27, 31 and 34 together.
I do not see any need for a change in the fundamental objective of industrial policy which is to develop a strong competitive industrial sector in Ireland which makes the maximum possible contribution to employment and living standards here. I believe, however, that the instruments of that policy have to be continually reappraised so that the aim of more jobs and wealth in Ireland can be attained most effectively and efficiently.
It is my view that industrial policy has been too narrowly defined here. There has been too great a concentration on incentives, in the form of both grants and tax breaks, and on agencies. This concentration has diverted attention from the critical importance of good economic management and other structural aspects of industrial development.
Industrial performance in the period 1987-90 was substantially better than in the earlier eightes primarily because of the greatly improved economic conditions brought about by stricter control of public expenditure and better economic management. The continuation of that approach must have the highest priority.
The attainment of effective competition throughout the economy is of fundamental importance to the lowering of costs for the traded sectors. I regard the early enactment of the competition Bill as a key contribution to industrial policy objectives for this reason.
Our physical infrastructure and our educational, training and manpower policies are also critical to industrial development. We are embarking on a major programme to develop our science and technology capability. There are changes occurring in global markets, in the process of European intergration, in technology and in the organisation of manufacturing which have implications for our industry over coming decades. All these inputs to industrial progress and our reaction to them must be advanced in a coherent way.
The points I have referred to are the essence of industrial policy. The State's industrial agencies are instruments of that policy and they contribute to industrial investment, and to technological and marketing development, through various programmes. The impact of those programmes can be seen in the strength of the industrial sector which we now have, in the jobs in industries which set up here over the past 30 years and in the growth of our industrial exports.
Arising from my Department's Review of Industrial Performance and consistent with the aim of achieving greater efficiency in agency programmes, I have announced a number of changes in relation to the level of grant assistance to be made available to industry, the merging of the marketing support services provided by Corás Tráchtála and the Irish Goods Council, and the amalgamation of the activities of NADCORP and the IDA. Details of the grant changes are set out in the review, copies of which have been placed in the Dáil Library.
As regards job creation, the House will be aware that under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, the aim is to create 20,000 new jobs each year of the programme in manufacturing and international services. After initial uncertainties in the first quarter of the year due to the hostilities in the Gulf, a much more positive trend is now emerging and I am confident that the target set out in the programme will be met. Underpinning the target is the need for sustained economic stability through the successful implementation of the programme.