THE Government has claimed it can generate 300,000 jobs by selling itself better abroad and co-ordinating its overseas operations.
However, the opposition has rubbished the plan as a “public relations joke” with no prospect of delivering on its targets.
The plan, Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy, aims to create 300,000 positions through a Foreign Trade Council.
This will pull together the overseas apparatus, including ambassadors and trade missions, to focus on a co-ordinated attempt to attract international money.
The council will be chaired by the Trade Minister, Billy Kelleher.
Mr Cowen, launching the plan at the Enterprise Ireland offices in East Point Business Park, said it was premised on the need to extend Ireland’s reach beyond its traditional markets.
This hoped to harness the Irish emigrant diaspora and bring tourism revenue and introduce Irish products to international markets.
Mr Cowen said the Government had already exceeded its targets for doubling the amount of exports to China. This offered a template for other emerging economies, he said.
However, Fine Gael’s enterprise spokesman, Richard Bruton, said the entire document was a rehash of existing policies.
“There are no new policies, no new programmes, and no new budgets. This is about media management, not economic management,” he said.
Labour’s Willie Penrose said there was no meaningful programme in place to drive the sectors forward.
“The document is fairly typical of previous publications from the Government. It is high on ambitious targets and very short on specifics as to how these might be achieved,” he said.
Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe said the jobs and investment targets were predicated on growth in the global economy. However, he said they were realisable.
The plan expects to open up 150,000 new jobs by 2015 in manufacturing, tourism and internationally traded services – and for every one of these the Government expects another to open elsewhere in the economy.
Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin said the number of overseas visitors could be increased to 8 million per year. And she said many of these would hopefully arrive from countries not ordinarily targeted by agencies.
Ms Hanafin said by going further afield the country could attract tourists who traditionally spent more, stayed longer and travelled more to the regions.
She said air access was critical to the success of this plan.
Tourism Ireland welcomed the new strategy.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved