Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (230)

Tom Fleming


234 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the criteria that was applied in determining that for feasibility grants for micro enterprise firms in County Kerry, 50% of the investment is the maximum grant while in border, midlands and western region it is 60% of the investment; his views on whether this is job creation discrimination to local entrepreneurs and that it is a follow on to the policy regarding grant aid for foreign direct investment which is nationally variable and nil grant aid category to County Kerry; and if he will review the system which is anti-job creation for County Kerry regarding micro enterprise and FDI. [35323/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

The rate at which the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) can provide feasibility grants to micro-enterprises is determined in the first instance by the location of the business entity i.e. whether the applicant is in the BMW region (60% rate applies) or the S&E region (50% rate applies). The different rates that apply between the two regions have been set down by the European Commission under the respective co-funded Operational Programmes for the period 2007-2013.

In relation to FDI a different funding or grant aid regime applies. The grant limits are determined by the European Commission Regional Guidelines 2007 to 2013. The Guidelines govern the areas in which Member States may grant regional aid, more commonly known as investment aid. Investment aid is intended to promote the economic development of certain disadvantaged areas within the European Union in order to redress regional disparities. The current Regional Aid Map for 2007-13 was drawn up in accordance with the Commission's Regional Aid Guidelines.

Following the expiry of transitional arrangements at the end of 2008, Kerry no longer qualifies for regional aid for large investment projects. However, it does continue to qualify for regional investment aid to SMEs at a rate of 20% for medium sized companies (50 to 249 employees) and 30% for small companies (under 50 employees). The process of Member States agreeing the 2014-2021 Regional Aid Guidelines has begun. The Commission are due to forward proposals to Member States in the coming months documenting the structure and provisions that will form the basis of the revised Guidelines. For the 2014-2021 Regional Aid Map, economic data for all counties will once again be analysed afresh. My Department is actively engaged in this process in close consultation with stakeholders.