Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Ceisteanna (73, 74, 75)

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

82 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the consequences on businesses here of the increase in inflation to 3.9 per cent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23905/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

86 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he is satisfied that the economy remains sufficiently competitive to enable the manufacturing and service sectors here to compete effectively on European or global markets; if he has identified the contributory causes of inflationary tendencies which might lead to a lack of competitiveness in the future; if he proposes to take steps to address the issues involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23652/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

119 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the action he intends to take to protect customers and business owners in view of the rise in inflation to 3.8 per cent in April 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23486/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82, 86 and 119 together.

The Government places top priority on our economy's ability to compete in the global marketplace. Our commitment to taking forward and quickly progressing implementation of both the Enterprise Strategy Group and Small Business Forum recommendations is evidence of our own resolve to ensure that we can continue to compete effectively in global markets.

Being one of the world's most open economies has allowed Ireland to prosper for over a decade but also leaves us prone to the pressures of rising external costs. Escalating and inflationary energy costs are a factor every economy is currently facing. Eurostat recently reported a rise in euro zone inflation to 2.5%, and several of our EU partners are dealing with inflation figures considerably higher than our own.

Maintaining a moderate rate of inflation remains a priority of the Government's economic policy. There are a number of variables, which drive inflation such as oil prices, exchange rates, interest rates and the level of demand in the economy. Not all of these factors are within our control.

The Government is playing its part in controlling inflation by implementing responsible fiscal policies, promoting stronger competition and strengthening consumer protection. In addition, the new Partnership Agreement has reconvened the Anti-Inflation Group to monitor the inflationary threat. The Partnership Agreement also includes proposals to support manufacturing targeted at such key areas as upskilling, R&D and the establishment of a High Level Manufacturing Group to address a broad range of issues affecting Ireland's manufacturing sector.