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National News


Toaiseach addresses Dublin Chamber of Commerce
Friday, 6th February 2009

Addressing the annual general meeting and dinner of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Taoiseach Mr Brian Cowen T.D. reiterated the Government position that "there could be no economic recovery without stability in the public finances."



He reminded the Chamber that Ireland is funding close to one-third of current spending, including pay, by borrowing. He also spoke of Government measures aimed at maximising economic activity and employment in the short-term.



The Taoiseach acknowledged that businesses are under severe pressure at the moment. He stated "that the Government wanted to help business to keep going during this difficult period so that we retain a strong enterprise base to lead us out of the recession."



Per head of population, Mr. Cowen said that Ireland has the largest investment programme in Europe:



"Within that programme, we are prioritising projects that generate more jobs. On Tuesday we announced a further 150 million to be re-allocated towards schools infrastructure and home insulation and energy efficiency measures. This will keep more people in jobs and therefore able to spend money in the local economy."



The Government is also acting to cut energy costs, "the energy regulator has been directed to work immediately with the ESB, Bord Gais ireann and the independent energy companies to develop options for a reduction in prices for all customers, business and domestic."



The Taoiseach also spoke of the Government's steps to ensure that the financial system provides adequate flows of credit to business.



As part of the recapitalisation programme, banks will be required to provide at least 10% more capacity for lending to small and medium-sized enterprises in 2009.



A Code of Practice on Business Lending is also being prepared and will be introduced shortly by the Financial Regulator. This will be legally binding and will set new standards for the recapitalised banks in dealing with their business customers.



The Taoiseach said that the scale of the economic challenges confronting us is dramatic, "but we have overcome considerable adversity in the past, and have every reason for confidence in our capacity to do so again, provided we keep to the right course over the period ahead."



ENDS



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