Monday, October 08 12:15:13
A quarter of Irish firms expect to shed jobs while barely 14pc will hire more staff in the near future, business lobby group ISME said today.
The third SME Business Trends Survey for 2012 has found that SME business confidence continues to decline, with the global economic slowdown now effecting exports - a key cornerstone of plans for an Irish recovery - and 11 out of 12 SME Business indicators showing a decline on the previous quarter. Most worryingly, a quarter of SME's surveyed expect to sustain further job losses in the future.
At the launch of the survey, ISME, the Irish Snall and Medium Enterprises association, warned the government about the potential implications of falling business confidence.
"Overall, the negative trends in all but one of the indicators clearly demonstrate the ineffectual economic policies from an indigenous SME perspective and the complete lack of traction of the Action Plan for Jobs, launched last February, with 25pc of firms expecting job losses, while only 14pc hope to employ more," ISME said in a statement.
The survey was conducted in the final week of September, with over 800 SME's, giving a response rate of 17pc.
Exports sustained their largest fall in four years, registering a decline of 22 points since Quarter 4 of that year as a result of ongoing global uncertainty. These concerns have been supplemented by the Eurozone crisis, weakening emerging markets and general slowdown within Ireland's main export destinations.
"The domestic economy continues in the doldrums despite the private sector efforts to contain costs," said ISME CEO Mark Fielding. "However, these efforts are hampered by a lack of bank credit, late payments, state imposed cost increases and a seemingly blind indifference from a government, lacking in imagination, vision and plans, still in thrall to the public sector unions. While SMEs and their employees are subjected to austerity, the sheltered public sector continues to avail of increments and allowances, paid for by international borrowing, to be repaid from private sector taxes.
"It is imperative that Government brings forward measures to assist SMEs overcome the many constraints facing them; the lack of bank finance, late payments and a dearth of support for training and reskilling programmes for current employees in existing vulnerable sectors of the economy.
"The clear priorities for Government must be the revitalisation of the economy through addressing the key inhibitors to economic recovery such as access to credit, late payments, rising costs of energy, rates, rents and a revisiting of the infamous Croke Park agreement, which is completely hampering a return to normality."