The country’s next government needs to prioritise the small and medium-sized business needs and create a “truly entrepreneurial culture” to bolster the economic recovery, according to a business group.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) is calling for policy objectives to be prioritised including an overhaul of the self-employed taxation system, improved access to credit and greater investment in infrastructure.
In total, 13 areas of priority are highlighted by Isme, many of which rear their heads annually as budget day approaches but which have yet to be addressed to the satisfaction of many.
“Ireland will not secure a sustainable recovery without an economic recovery of SMEs, the backbone of our economy and our society. SMEs represent two thirds of employment and around 60% of turnover. Furthermore, SMEs have created nine out of every 10 new jobs during the last five years and are the main drivers of innovation.
“We need more entrepreneurs and more entrepreneurial spirit in our society at large. The new government must ensure a ‘cultural change’ towards entrepreneurship, as the current culture often fails to recognise and reward entrepreneurial endeavours.
“SMEs must be at the centre of the Government’s decision-making process leading to a stronger indigenous sector and an economy that is not over-reliant on foreign direct investment,” said Isme chief executive, Mark Fielding.
Bringing to an end the disparate tax rates paid by self-employed workers in comparison to their PAYE counterparts is one of the areas outlined in Isme’s new policy document.
The group is also seeking a reduction in the rate of capital gains tax to 10% for entrepreneurs to bring the Irish system in line with that of the UK.
The latest budget introduced by British chancellor George Osborne raised the stakes on this side of the Irish Sea and across the border by making our nearest neighbours an even more attractive location for small and new businesses.
Mr Osborne introduced pro-business measures including an increase in the threshold for small business rate relief from £6,000 to £15,000 (€18,880) which will see 600,000 firms pay no business rates from next April.
Its capital gains tax regime continued to be considerably more attractive than that in operation here while access to funding is also a major feather in the cap of the UK with its Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme.
Part of Isme’s proposition in improving access to credit is a broadening of the types of finance available to SMEs and increased monitoring of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.
The small business lobby group is also advocating a reduction in the cost of doing business in Ireland and improved national broadband infrastructure to enable rural business.
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