Dáil Éireann - Volume 332 - 26 January, 1982

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Small and Medium-Sized Businesses.

7. Mr. R. Ryan asked the Minister for Industry and Energy having regard to the [12] considerable employment given by small and medium-sized businesses in Ireland, if he will indicate the nature and time-scale of action he proposes to take to implement the Council of Europe's recommendation on small and medium-sized enterprises.

Minister for Industry and Energy (Mr. M. O'Leary): I have seen the report referred to by the Deputy. Measures along the lines of those recommended in the report for the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises have already been implemented and continue to be developed by my Department and the State agencies for which I have responsibility. In particular I would refer the Deputy to (i) the IDA's small industries and enterprise development programmes; (ii) Shannon Development's small industry pilot project in the mid-west to devise and test new methods of promoting small indigenous industry; (iii) the establishment in Limerick of the innovation centre for small industry to develop and test new processes and products; (iv) the business advisory service of the Irish Productivity Centre, which provides a wide range of consultancy services for small firms; (v) the IDA's and SFADCo's programmes for the development of craft industries.

Mr. S. Brennan: Is the Minister aware of the grave financial crisis which is now affecting the vast majority of small and medium-sized businesses? These companies are at survival level. What plans are there to assist such firms during this crisis?

Mr. M. O'Leary: We are continuing our efforts under the small industries and enterprise development programme. In certain cases where industries get into trouble we are attempting to give them advice and assistance in order to avoid a close down. We are well aware of the gravity of the present situation.

Mr. S. Brennan: Is the Minister aware of the lack of information in regard to the overall performance of smaller companies? Will he take steps to gather information [13] about the financial condition and solvency of small firms? Many of them are in dire straits. The Minister should put a plan together to bail out such firms. It is not good enough to wait until they turn up at the door of the IDA. They need help urgently.

Mr. M. O'Leary: SFADCo and other agencies are well aware of the difficulties of these firms and are working very hard to obviate some of the effects——

Mr. S. Brennan: Is the Minister satisfied with the level of information available on the condition and performance of small companies?

Mr. M. O'Leary: In any discussions I have had with the IDA this has not been raised. We are concerned about the effect of the recession on the viability of many companies.

An Ceann Comhairle: We cannot have a debate on this.

Mr. Leyden: Is the Minister aware of the devastating effects the ban on reequipment grants by the IDA will have on small industries or is he totally unaware of the effects of the removal of these grants?

Mr. M. O'Leary: We and the IDA do not see that as a serious problem at present.

Mr. Leyden: It is serious.