My Department will be developing its Statement of Strategy, in consultation with its many stakeholders, in the coming months and within the required time-frame of 6-months.
A core objective of the Department will be to contribute to the formation of an ambitious and effective National Economic Plan. The Department’s leadership across a number of Government strategies, including Future Jobs Ireland, will be to the fore in this regard. The focus will not only be on measures which address the current challenges facing the enterprise sector but also on ensuring the long-term viability of Ireland’s enterprise base. This will require the transformation of our enterprises to seize strategic opportunities in fast developing sectors and adapt to technological and climate changes under way.
My Department is actively participating in EU Commission considerations of the appropriate trade policy measures that best marry the needs of our response to the pandemic with our strong support for open, rules-based, multilateral trade that supports wealth creation and good jobs. Two key elements include short-term transparent, targeted, temporary and proportionate measures as well as revisions to the EU’s guiding trade policy, the review of which opened last month and on which Trade Ministers, including myself, will input to in the autumn.
The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of a National SME Growth Plan that will map out an ambitious long-term strategic blueprint beyond COVID-19. The National SME Growth Plan will be largely informed by the comprehensive OECD Report on “SME & Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland”, which was published last year. It will include detailed proposals to help SMEs to start up, scale up and access foreign markets. It will look at ways to make SMEs more productive and ready for the transition to a digital, green economy. It will also make improvements to areas such as local entrepreneurship ecosystems and local industry clusters to drive regional development. This Plan will be brought to Government for approval as part of the National Economic Plan in October. The Growth Plan will align with and build on existing SME policy initiatives, such as those set out in Future Jobs Ireland.
The Programme for Government identifies a number of groups which will be led by Government in shaping the engagement of enterprise and SMEs in the formulation of the policy responses at the different stages of the recovery:
- Sectoral taskforces to focus on the specific needs of sectors, and to bring forward plans in the context of the National Economic Plan;
- An SME and State Bodies Group, to be chaired jointly by the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Business, to co-ordinate the ongoing response to COVID-19 for SMEs;
- An SME Growth Taskforce, to design a National SME Growth Plan that will map out an ambitious long-term strategic blueprint beyond COVID-19.
The first meeting of the SME and State Bodies Group took place on Friday last. Both myself and the Minister for Finance, along with Ministers of State Damien English and Robert Troy met with business representative groups and State Bodies to discuss SME financing challenges and how to solve these.