Castlebar economy facing devastation says Chamber President

Castlebar businesses are being forced to close with the loss of jobs and livelihoods and many others are in severe difficulty. The local economy is facing devastation and ruin according to Castlebar Chamber of Commerce which has launched its own election manifesto.

According to the chamber it is critical that the plight of local businesses and jobs are recognised and the chamber is urging its members and the local electorate to vote for the political party best suited to addressing the crucial issues for business and jobs.

As a matter of urgency the chamber wants the following items addressed: The restoration of confidence and competitiveness, the development of a pro-business environment, the creation and stimulation of jobs, and a show of support for enterprise and the safe-guarding of the economy.

According to chamber president Tom Canavan national finances are a priority and must be addressed including the cost of interest for the Government in repaying its debt.

On a local scale, local authority charges are the biggest fixed cost for small businesses. Implementing the recommendations of the Local Government Efficiency Review Group and delivering such reforms could lead to savings of €511 million nationally for local authorities. These savings should in turn be passed on to businesses in the form of reduced rates and other charges, according to Mr Canavan.

Castlebar and Ballina were assigned Hub status under the National Spatial Strategy. No benefits have accrued from this, says the Castlebar manifesto. No business or community group in Castlebar town is eligible for Leader funding because of the Hub status. This is a major setback for Castlebar community and business and must be addressed, the manifesto continues.

The document also touches on the Croke Park Agreement which the chamber says must deliver on clear, quantifiable, cost-saving measures through public sector reform. It also looks for the protection of the 12.5 per cent corporation tax rate to help Ireland’s return to economic growth.

The chamber is looking for a reform in the planning process to ensure more efficient delivery of planning decisions, especially infrastructural ones. “All barriers that make it difficult for entrepreneurs to set up a business must be removed,” added the chamber president.

The chamber is urging members to vote for the political party which will create jobs and support enterprise. “Tourism needs to be supported, next generation broadband must be delivered - Castlebar is the only large town in Ireland without high speed broadband. This is a major shortcoming for Castlebar and means that it is not capable of attracting many of the new businesses which require what is now a basic infrastructure and is potentially losing new jobs,” explained Castlebar Chamber.“Banks must give credit, credit is the life-blood of business. This means businesses can stay open and maintain jobs. A credit guarantee scheme is required to help many businesses to survive.

“The public sector must support Irish and local organisations when purchasing goods and services and the Government must maintain a tax regime which encourages and supports oil and gas exploration in Ireland,” the manifesto stressed. Castlebar Chamber, ahead of election 2011, has reinforced the message that business and jobs go together and is urging businesses to vote for the candidates who will best protect jobs, create new ones, and stimulate business growth.

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