Mairead McGuinness MEP
Mairead McGuinness MEP
Forbes magazine naming Ireland as the best country in the world in which to do business is highly significant, Mairead McGuinness, Ireland East Fine Gael MEP has said.
Ms McGuinness stated it will shine a very positive light on the country for potential foreign investors who watch these developments very closely.
“But it is also a positive signal for ourselves as Irish people and should boost confidence among entrepreneurs and those with ideas,” she said.
Ms McGuinness commended the Taoiseach on achieving what was a long held ambition for the country. “It goes to show the success that is achievable when you focus, aim high and work assiduously at achieving the target,” she said. However, she cautioned that there is also much more that needs to be done across the Irish economy and in particular in relation to having in place the right kinds of support for SMEs (small and medium size enterprises). She identified a lack of access to credit as "an impediment” for such businesses and also the cost of finance.
Pointing to a new euro area survey involving 500 Irish SMEs, she said one in five Irish SMEs identified access to finance as the most pressing problem they face in their businesses. Ireland has one of the highest instances (19pc) of financing obstacles for SMEs, putting us joint second with the Netherlands and just behind Greece at 21pc.
“These obstacles involve three different scenarios – only a limited amount of a loan application being granted, prohibitive borrowing costs and SMEs not actually applying for a loan at all for fear of rejection,” she said.
Ms McGuinness said it would be wise for lenders operating in the Irish market to try and “better understand” the needs of SMEs. “There is a sense of a rush back to profitability with indecent haste when a more measured approach would yield better results all round, given the interdependent nature of business and lending. In the USA businesses are not as reliant on bank finance as EU business is,” she said.
However, she did indicate that we are in a period of change and there were some positive signals. “It is important to acknowledge that on the successful loan application side Ireland did, in this survey, show a notable increase in numbers.”
She said she has “absolute confidence that it is a great time to be starting a business. While there will always be successes and failures in business we are now coming off the bottom and the next few years will see good growth and much opportunity. I also see a different attitude from here on in to business failure. Instead of trial and error it will be trial, learning and starting again,” she said.
The survey on access to finance of small and medium -sized enterprises in the euro area/ November 2013, was jointly undertaken by the European Commission and the European Central Bank. It was conducted between 28 August and 4 October in all euro area countries except Slovakia. It involved 500 Irish SMEs.
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