Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - IDA Grants.


asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if IDA grants are now available for service industries setting up in Dublin or elsewhere in the country.

IDA grants are available for export-oriented service industries in any area of the country.

Can the Minister say if this has been the position always?

No. It has been the position since July, 1973.

Are any such grants being paid at present and may an Irish service company qualify for these grants?

Yes, and Irish companies may so qualify. Of the total of 28 approvals to date, and included in this are the first four months of 1976, eight were Irish. There was potential employment of 2,043, of which 288 were Irish.

Can the Minister say if those approved were justified in the light of performance? In other words, were they really export-oriented? I am aware that it may be necessary to table a separate question in order to get this information.

The Deputy's supplementary would appear to be widening the matter.

The extension of IDA grants to the service areas has been a matter of particular interest to me. This extension has produced very satisfactory results in terms of exports. Some of the firms concerned are oriented solely towards the export market and, apart from the quality of employment and the bringing to the country of technological know-how, there has been a significant contribution to invisible earnings. I cannot give more detail than that.


asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if there has recently been a change in IDA policy in relation to industrial grants which puts Dublin on a par with the western seaboard; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Since 1975, because of the high rate of job loss in industry in the Dublin area, the Industrial Development Authority have, with my approval, extended their small industry programme to the Dublin area for certain selected sectors of industry and are promoting Dublin freely as a location for new largescale industrial projects. There has been no change in the statutory level of industrial grants. The maximum is still 60 per cent of fixed assets in the designated areas, including the western seaboard, as against 45 per cent elsewhere, including Dublin. It is not proposed to make any change in the differentials in grants approved.

Would the Minister agree that this policy may mitigate against the west in that industrialists will not bother to set up there if they can receive similar grants on the eastern seaboard? Can the Minister explain why this change in policy was not publicised? Was it done in some sort of esoteric way?

First, in regard to the effect of this policy, the Deputy is aware from his personal knowledge of this area that the statutory limits are attained only very seldom by the IDA who, quite correctly, enter into individual negotiation and package and secure the given industry for as little money as they can spend. Secondly, it is evident from the figures that were emerging in the first part of 1975 that the opposite to what the Deputy suggests is true. For example, to take the western area there was an increase in jobs of 2,147 between 1973 and 1975 while at the same time there was a diminution in the east of 3,825 jobs. The figures reveal that, taken area by area, the east and the north east were the areas suffering most. The Deputy will be aware, too, that it is correct for the IDA, within the discretionary limits of the legislation, to target their efforts to where the need is greatest. There were counties such as Mayo, for example, which were disadvantaged severely previously but in respect of which the opposite is now the case.

In respect of Donegal, in the period when there had been a drop in the east of 3,800 and in the north-east of 1,500, there was a net gain in Donegal of 77. Therefore, it is correct to say that the IDA push their efforts in the areas where there is need. I was not aware of any lack of publicity.

The Minister will agree that the increase of 77 is purely fictitious because of some factories being set up in the Gweedore estate. He should be aware that unemployment in the county has risen by a much higher percentage than in any other county. He cannot deny this.

I do deny it. The figures for employment are not identical. The figures are comparable.

Will the Minister agree that when we brought in the 1945 Undeveloped Areas Act, which was administered by An Foras Tionscail, our sole purpose was to create an incentive to establish industries in the west? The Minister is surely aware that industrialists will not go to the west unless they can get a considerable incentive over and above the east coast.

The Deputy is making a speech.

The Minister is now giving grants to people in a way which is tantamount to providing that there will be no new employment in the west.

That is doing the maximum malicious damage possible. The figures I have given indicate that in the period 1973-1975 there were increases in Donegal, in the north-west, in the west, in the south-east and in the midlands, and decreases in the mid-west and in the south-west, and a very serious decrease in the east and in the north-east. The necessary thing to do with public money is to aim at where the need is greatest.

I am not satisfied with the Minister's reply. Is he aware that the increase in the eastern seaboard area is due to the slackness in the construction industry, not in manufacturing industry? Nowadays when there is no employment across the Channel people from the west come to Dublin to look for work, so that giving employment in the east is only attracting people from the west——

This is becoming a debate. I am calling the next question.

The statutory basis remains the same.

In the north-east, both systems obtain—one part of the area attracts the higher grant and the other does not.

I do not see the point of the question.

The Minister made a distinction between the eastern and western areas and said that larger grants apply to designated areas.

There has been no change in the legislation.

Does the Minister not agree that part of the north-eastern area is included in the designated areas and that some of it is not?

Are the increases the Minister has been talking about net or is he taking into account job losses as well?

Is this not a complete change from the policy of the previous Government in regard to the decentralising of industry and its siting in handicapped areas? I did not know about this change. It was not publicised. There has been a complete movement of population from the west, where the population was already small, to the east.

Apart from referring to these statements as of a semi-paranoid kind, from the figures, the Deputy will see that certain areas in the west have been doing better in recent times. There has been absolutely no change in policy. Had there been a change in policy there would have been a change in legislation. There is a change in emphasis within the legislation, of a perfectly proper kind.

Does the Minister not recognise that the growth in Mayo is a direct consequence——

I have been calling the next question.