Chamber chief calls for public sector reform

IT is time to stop “pussyfooting” around the issue of public sector reform as a matter of urgency.

In a hard-hitting speech to the country’s business community last night, Cork Chamber president Ger O’Mahoney said there needs to be consequences if no change is delivered.

He also said political reform is essential if politics is to attract the best candidates. He said that if the public sector is not reformed then any effort to restore fiscal sustainability is “futile”.

Mr O’Mahoney called for a fundamental review of all services provided on a national, regional and local level.

“Lack of progress on reform cannot be tolerated any longer. Cuts do not equal reform and the time for pussyfooting around the issue is gone.”

Mr O’Mahoney was speaking at the Cork Chamber annual dinner at City Hall last night.

In a room packed with TDs and senators he called for a plan with specific targets and firm timelines to be put in place whereby those responsible can be measured against it.

“If this plan is not delivered there need to be consequences because the gravity of the situation that Ireland now finds itself in dictates that this should be the case.” Mr O’Mahoney said political reform will require changes to the electoral system and a “revitalised culture of public service”.

“In addition we must simplify the system to encourage entrepreneurship including a reform of the out-dated bankruptcy laws,” he said.

The issue of regulation must be carefully examined.

“We are bogged down in a mire of regulation and bureaucracy. The current system is cumbersome and often times counter-productive,” he said.

On a more positive note, he said that while the country faces many challenges it is imperative that in working towards economic recovery, we acknowledge that we are starting from a position of strength.

“Ireland — and specifically Cork — are open for business and will continue to attract inward investment,” he said.

He pointed out that Ireland recorded the second highest trade surplus in the EU in the first nine months of 2010 and exports continue to perform well, while tax receipts and competitiveness are improving.

“With the availability of top quality graduates from Cork’s third-level colleges, good infrastructure and our pro business environment, the Cork region continues to attract high quality key global investment, placing us in a good position to move forward,” he added.

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