Attended general election husting is St Lawrence O’Tooles School Seville Place – the boys were very attentive and their questions displayed a real understanding of issues effecting their lives and the election (more than I had at their age :-). Then back on the road canvassing.
Brian Lenihan this morning outlined some compelling facts which should give us heart and allow us to start believing in our Economy again:
- We have a highly flexible economy, a strong export base, and a young highly educated workforce.
- Our Exports are Powering Ahead: Irish exports reached their highest level ever at a value of €161 billion. The key drivers were agri-food, life sciences and medical devices.
- Conditions in the labour market have begun to stabilise: Unemployment declined in January from 13.6% to 13.4% with a record monthly fall in the Live Register of nearly 7,000 and redundancies in January down by one-quarter from a year ago.
- Employable Graduates: A European Commission study put us first in the world of most highly employable graduates.
- Inward Investment: We are first in the world for jobs created by inward investment. 2010 was the best year since 2006 for FDI into Ireland.
- R&D: We are the most competitive location for Research and Development investment.
- Car sales: New car sales in January up 29% from the same month a year ago.
- Competitiveness Improving: Wages and other costs are adjusting to the change in economic conditions. Unit labour costs are expected to have declined by nearly 6% in 2010.
- Low inflation: Consumer prices are no longer falling, but we must maintain very low inflation to continue to improve competitiveness.
- Public Finances have stabilised: Tax revenue in January ahead of target, with business taxes showing particularly well. Revenues of €3.1 billion were 1.9% above their level in January 2010.
- Budget: The 2010 exchequer returns shows that Budget Day tax targets from last year were exceeded by some €700 million. Tax revenues in 2010 were down just 3.9% from a year earlier. By contrast, tax revenues fell 19% in 2009.
Ours in the only Plan that is fully costed. It is focused solely on the achievement of sustainable economic growth. It has not been designed around voter appeal. There are no gimmicks. It is realistic and it is credible. Our programme in the next Dáil will be the implementation of the Plan.