The economic malaise affecting the country does not seem to be lifting. This week we spoke to a local trader in cars. A new car scrapage scheme in Germany is working well as is one in Italy. We were reading the UK press and note that there are demands over there for a similar scheme. German and Italian markets are up for the sale of cars. Not as many cars in those countries are bought on credit. This seems to be one of the limiting factors here in generating sales as finance companies are very reluctant to take on risk and job security is not what it used to be. Many intending purchasers are seeing their loan applications more scrutinised. Over in America there is some lift in car sales as banks and credit institutions find more access to credit. The government here will have to improve confidence to some extent by having some small initiatives.

On the building front there could be big push on insulation and energy conservation in houses. This would create much needed work for plumbers and electricians and get them off the dole queues. Irish houses have not been as well insulated as those in Continental Europe where temperatures are much lower in winter. An improved grant scheme is needed, some funds for wind and solar power are there but there is a need for better insulation as well.

Back in the 1980s there were the home improvement scheme grants that lifted the construction industry at a very low point in the economic cycle. We are back there again. A cost benefit analysis would suggest that this would be self financing. We would invite and suggest to our readers to tell the politicians at the doorsteps that we want good ideas to get us out of recession. The blame game will not solve matters.

There are enough good ideas both here and abroad to learn from in the coming year but we need to lift confidence. A big campaign is also for our people to holiday at home this year. There is great value to be had if you shop around with the hotels and other tourism providers. A Government push to get people to spend more money at home could be positive.