Section 8 proposes to raise the limit of the amount that the Minister for Finance may subscribe for shares in the Shannon Free Airport Development Company from a maximum of £8 million to £17 million. I want to question whether this sum will be adequate in view of the programme prepared by SFADCO which was placed before the Mid-Western Region Organisation and approved by that body. Under that development programme SFADCO propose to build 128 industrial units or industrial buildings at a cost of £9.75 million in the next four or five years. This estimate was arrived at some 15 to 17 months ago and having regard to the substantial increase in all costs in the interim period I wonder if the limit now placed on the Minister for Finance to take up shares in exchange for capital is adequate. Certainly the sum does not appear to be sufficient to finance the scheme proposed by SFADCO for the mid-western region, which includes Limerick City and County, Clare and North Tipperary.
I would ask the Minister to raise this ceiling figure substantially. I believe it should be increased from £17 million to £25 million. I do not think this is an exaggerated figure having regard to SFADCO's plans and the potential development in the Shannon region. Though the sum of £9 million sounds a substantial one, that estimate does not make any provision for the acquisition of land or other expenditure; it seems to be related solely to the provision of advance factories and building units as proposed by SFADCO. The time has come when we must have a bold and imaginative plan for the development of the entire mid-west region including the Shannon estuary. I suggest to the Minister that the sum of £9 million in this context is wholly inadequate to develop this region in a realistic manner.
The SFADCO proposals provide for the creation of 7,500 additional jobs during the years 1969 to 1974 or an average of 1,500 new jobs per year. This is more than approximately three times the rate of the number of jobs provided during the ten years in which SFADCO have operated from the coming into effect of the 1959 Act. It is obvious that these proposals would cost a sum far in excess of the £6 million or £7 million that it cost to provide the 4,500 jobs at the Shannon Airport industrial estate. For this reason I submit to the Minister that he should reconsider this provision and introduce an amendment on Report Stage to provide for a sum of about £25 million.
I am aware that in replying to points raised by other Senators and by myself on Second Stage, the Minister said that he thought it was a good system that enough funds would be provided for two or three years at the end of which time SFADCO would come back to the Minister for further funds. I suggest that in this day and age the provision of funds for a period of only three years is taking too short-sighted a view when one realises that planning, of its very nature, must be done on a long-term basis. Therefore, the figure of £25 million I have suggested would be more realistic than a ceiling of £17 million.
I might mention as a matter of interest that one of the Scottish development boards, I think it is the Scottish North-West Development Board which operates in the Inverness area, is planning to spend a sum in excess of £40 million on a development programme to provide industrial and other undertakings.
It is interesting to note, too, that the Litchfield Report on the mid-west region anticipated that between the years 1966 and 1986, the population of that region will have increased from 265,000 to 325,000, an increase of 60,000 persons. The Buchanan Report put the estimate at the higher figure of 371,000 persons by 1986. Therefore, it is obvious that if industrial development in the area is to be kept in line with the projected increase in population, the necessary finances will have to be provided to keep pace with the job requirements. Perhaps the Minister will reconsider this section and bring in an amendment on Report Stage to provide the necessary additional finance?