Last week we had much furore over the political pensions. They are over generous and seem to be too high at the top level for Ministers given the times we live in. But there are bigger crises out there. The cost of Anglo Irish Bank and its effect on Government budgets is getting more serious. It is no longer off balance sheet because of the bank’s zombie status. This has to be tackled and cannot be ignored, the fund flow here has to be limited and stopped.
On a positive side, the Bank of Ireland are getting themselves in order and will be able to get back to normal business soon after NAMA and the re-financing.
This should be a great boost for the Irish economy in the near term and the sooner there is a liquidity boost the better. A revitalised economy could see tax revenues recover and maybe fewer people on the dole queues.
Last week, at a conference in Dunhill, where the major emphasis was on creating local jobs, whether in food, crafts, tourism or energy, many positive ideas were put forward. What can be done with the vast number out of work? Minister Eamon O Cuiv praised Dunhill and Waterford County for their initiatives which are supported strongly by Waterford County Council.
The Minister, a grandson of the late President Eamon De Valera, felt that Dunhill was a great example for other communities to follow as they were energetic with their enterprise centre and vitality. He spoke about the tragedy of unemployment, how it affected people’s health, both physical and mental, and how the unemployment crisis had to be solved.
Out of his Departmental budget of €4.5 billion, a total of €4 billion went for jobless benefit with just half a billion for work schemes. He wants to see this addressed. If half went into job schemes, what would that do for morale and physical well being of people?
Voluntarism, like maintenance of sports grounds, working with the aged through meals on wheels and assisting in school activities can be done with many who unluckily find themselves out of work. The Minister wants radical change and needs support on these measures, to revitalise communities.
Building strong cohesive communities was essential. People needed self esteem, dignity and a purpose in life stated the Minister and he wanted to see new ways of getting people to work. Linking up with tourism and creation was an obvious way for getting active and engaged. Leader created many initiatives with over a billion spent on it with getting people off the dole a priority, he pointed out.
More government departments and officials will need to co-operate on new measures. The black economy shadow is coming again and could involve 20 per cent of jobless. To combat this growth new plans are needed. Getting banking going again, rather than propping up Anglo Irish Bank, where an orderly winddown is urgent with the help of Europe, plus major jobs initiatives as Minister O Cuiv suggests.
Waterford City and County council are ready to assist. The continuing crisis with billions going into Anglo terrifies people as they see more jobs lost and credit gets more difficult. Even a car loan is hard to get for many. Looking back, one could wonder why we joined the euro if it would not control lending growth. In the past, when we were tied to sterling with the punt and there was a crisis, we would devalue and save jobs. Now that luxury is not there.