I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 11, 18, 21, 22, 26, 28, 39, 40, 41, 44, 45, 49, 50, 51, 53, 55, 61, 65, 70, 74, 75, 77, 79, 81 and 82 together.
The Enterprise Strategy Group was established by An Tánaiste to prepare a report that would serve as a blueprint for an enterprise strategy for growth and employment in Ireland. Under its terms of reference, the group was asked to develop a medium term enterprise strategy and to propose and prioritise national policy responses which would strengthen the competitiveness of Ireland's enterprise environment; promote the emergence of an innovative and knowledge driven economy; ensure balanced regional development; sustain, where feasible, those industries already providing significant employment; underpin the industries of the future where Ireland is or can become a substantial player with particular reference to segments of the ICT, life sciences, food, financial services and internationally traded services sectors; encourage business start ups and companies with potential for growth; and examine the scope for increasing the value of sectors to the Irish economy as a whole.
In this context the group was asked to take into account a number of important domestic and external factors that will determine our future growth potential. These included long-term international trends in globalisation, EU enlargement, technology and regulation, as well as in the developing structure of industries and markets and Ireland's increased prosperity and changing cost and competitiveness base. The Government considered the report of the Enterprise Strategy Group, in advance of its publication on 7 July last. Given the large number of recommendations made and the fact that they impacted on a number of Departments and their agencies, the Government decided to set up a high level committee to consider the implications of the report and the best manner to address its recommendations.
The report contains some 51 recommendations, approximately half of which are appropriate to Departments other than my own. Accordingly, ten Departments were represented on the committee. Given the widespread nature of these recommendations, their importance and, in certain cases their complexity, detailed analyses and extensive consultations were required. My understanding is that the committee expects to finalise its report in the near future and I propose to present it to the Cabinet immediately thereafter.
My intention is that a specific plan should be drafted on each recommendation to be implemented. These plans would be closely monitored to ensure their implementation within a specified timeframe. While it would not be appropriate for me to comment on specific recommendations in advance of receiving the report of the high level committee and communicating my own views to the Government, I am aware that some of recommendations it contains reflect initiatives already underway or envisaged in Departments and agencies. For example, prior to the publication of the Enterprise Strategy Group's report in July of this year, the Government on 22 June 2004 approved a new co-ordination and governance system for STI, which included the establishment of the position of chief science adviser to the Government, a post that was filled with effect from 1 September.
I do not need to outline the challenges we face in an increasingly competitive environment. The decisions we make now must ensure that we remain a dynamic economy. I look forward, therefore, to receiving the report of the high level committee.