ISME, one of the main lobbyists for the small business community, has been highly critical of the CRO — whose role it is to monitor the flow of bank credit to SMEs — since its establishment last year.
Now, the heads of the two bodies — CRO’s John Trethowan and ISME chief Mark Fielding — will feature on the new Small Business Advisory Group, which has been established by Small Business Minister John Perry.
Mr Perry said: “It’s vitally important that as a Government we communicate what we’re doing and that we hear, close-hand, what issues need to be addressed more urgently and what measures can be considered to further support small business.”
The first meeting of the new body took place yesterday and was attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who said: “Small and medium enterprises play a crucial and often under-estimated role in our economy. My Government is committed to making Ireland the best small country in which to do business. We will work with all sectors of the business community in order to achieve this.”
As well as Mr Trethowan and Mr Fielding, the 18-strong member board will include Paul Gallagher of the Irish Hotels Federation, Tom Hayes of Enterprise Ireland, Declan Hughes of Forfás, Conor Healy of Chambers Ireland and Patricia Callan of the Small Firms Association. Mr Perry will chair the group.
While the new group will not produce reports, it is aiming to facilitate “structured and regular dialogue” between the Government and SME representatives.
Mr Perry, however, warned that the board’s establishment is set against the backdrop of the most difficult challenge ever confronted by the state — in terms of the public finances — and “any initiatives developed must have regard to what is deliverable in this context”.