Sligo Chamber takes an active role in the establishment, implementation and review of public policy at a local, regional and national level. The Chamber’s submissions on Public Policy are always guided by our core remit which is to “Help Sligo Grow”. In many instances, Sligo Chamber adopts the policy position adopted by Chambers Ireland, after consultation in such areas as:
- Local Government Reform
We believe local authorities should be reformed in a range of ways.
- Local authority spending – We believe every opportunity must be taken to ensure that all local authorities reduce their spending. This can result from more efficient management structures and more rational planning and services.
- Broadening the tax base – We believe every effort must be made to broaden the tax base for local authorities. The resulting system ought to be fair and equitable. Chambers Ireland calls for local taxes to be based on a ‘user pays’ principal.
- Business rates – We believe the business community carries a disproportionate burden with regard to the funding of local authorities. Much can be done to ensure this process is fair: valuation should be more open and transparent; ‘targeted reductions’ should be made available to struggling SMEs; and rates should be flexible and sensitive to fluctuations in the market.
- Supports for business – We believe that local authority initiatives to support the business community, such as Local Enterprise Offices, should involve the local chamber of commerce at a governance level.
- Outsourcing – We call for Government to support local enterprise through the outsourcing of specific ‘end to end’ tasks currently performed by local authorities. Certain functions can be outsourced to private sector companies who have the expertise to perform the tasks while allowing local authority staff to concentrate on their core responsibilities.
- Water charges and waste management – We call for the costs to business through waste management and water consumption to be reduced. We urge the Government to introduce water charges on a ‘user pays’ basis as a way of easing the burden on the business community and creating a fair and sustainable income stream.
- Shared services – We believe considerable savings can be achieved through the sharing of back-office operations across the public service and local authorities. All duplication of services must be ended.
- Procurement – Local authorities can help local business through greater cooperation and coordination of procurement across local authorities. We have called for the full implementation of Department of Finance: Circular 10/10 to facilitate SME participation in public procurement.
- Evaluating local authorities – Local authorities should be judged using clearly stated indicators of success. Performance metrics must take account of the needs of the relevant stakeholders, such as local businesses.
- Supporting SME’s
- Access to finance – Chambers Ireland continues to call on the Government to ensure SMEs have access to a range of schemes which will provide them with the necessary finance to allow their businesses to grow. The banks must continue to meet their lending targets and businesses must be made fully aware of the process of appealing to the Credit Review office if their application is refused. Furthermore, the new Credit Guarantee Schemes must work in favour of SMEs.
- Local Enterprise Offices – We believe that these new bodies, designed to replace City and County Enterprise Boards and located within Local Authorities, must focus exclusively on the needs of small business: to assist start-ups to ‘get on their feet’; and help small businesses to grow into the next stages, such as exporting.
- Taxation – As part of Budget 2013, the Government introduced a 10 Point Tax Reform Plan to Help Small Business. It is our contention that this lacks ambition and will not do enough to ease the pressure currently felt by all SMEs. Chambers Ireland commits to working towards creating the best fiscal environment for all SMEs.
- Job Creation
Sligo Chamber believes that job creation is possible through a range of policies and initiatives.
- Corporation Tax – The rate of corporation tax must remain unchanged in order to give businesses the confidence to grow and to sustain and encourage increased levels of Foreign Direct Investment.
- Labour market flexibility– We need ever more flexibility in our labour market to reflect economic conditions and be in line with other indicators of growth. Increased flexibility will give businesses the confidence to invest and grow.
- Government and job creation – We believe government both local and national can play a key role in helping businesses to create jobs. Local Enterprise Offices have the potential to be an excellent resource. However, they must reflect the needs of the local business community and remain steadfast in their core focus and mission.
- Providing funding for SMEs – While securing funding is a challenge for many small and medium enterprises (SMEs), it is important that they have access to funds to allow them to manage their cash flow, and provide them with the stability and confidence to grow.
- Trade – We support the international development of Irish businesses by representing their interests at the International Chamber of Commerce, World Chambers Federation and Eurochambres. The Irish chamber network also facilitates trade through the certification of export documentation for companies exporting overseas.
- PRSI – Chambers Ireland continually seeks reduction in all costs of employment including employer PRSI contributions
- Infrastructure –as a campaigning organisation seeking ever better virtual and physical infrastructure Chambers Ireland is committed to identifying and lobbying for an improved road, rail and bus network that will contribute to the success of all businesses and the communities in which they operate.
- Regional Connectivity –universal service obligations are a vital means of ensuring a level business landscape across the country top-quality broadband, telecoms, water, postal and electricity infrastructures underpin business, tourism and social development and growth. Without these businesses simply won’t be competitive. Chambers continually seeks to maintain and improve these services for all our members around the country
- Business Process Outsourcing – should be part of the Government’s core strategy to stimulate job creation and cut Governmental costs. Ireland already has a successful cluster of local and multinational BPO providers; we will continue to support the growth in Ireland.
- Transport and Infrastructure
- Improvement of the N4
- Access to alternative Energy
- International Air Access
- Developing our Yeatsian Legacy
The various Chambers services Teams contribute extensively towards the adaption of suitable policies that reflect the wider economic interest of the North West region of Ireland and draw on the expertise of our stakeholders, both within and outside of the Chamber in order to “Help Sligo Grow”.