SFA End of Year Statement 2015

Thursday, 31 December 2015

    • Small businesses set to create 30,000 jobs in 2016
    • Tax equalisation, public procurement and competition in the banking industry priority issues for General Election campaign
    • Loss of competitiveness is the biggest risk facing Irish businesses

In an end of year statement, AJ Noonan, Chairman of the Small Firms Association (SFA), said: “Ireland has transformed itself once again into a successful and growing economy – in large part due to the entrepreneurship, perseverance and innovation of small companies. There is a strong feeling amongst the 182,000 small firms in Ireland that the business environment will continue to improve in 2016 and they plan to create 30,000 more jobs, further enrich their communities and drive economic progress.”

The SFA Chairman continued: “With a General Election on the horizon, the SFA will be calling on the new Government – whatever its composition – to embrace the SFA vision of Ireland as the most vibrant small business community in the world, supporting entrepreneurship, valuing small business and rewarding risk takers. Concrete steps must be taken in 2016 towards making this a reality.”

AJ Noonan laid out some of the concrete steps in his four point plan:
    1. Full tax equalisation for the self-employed/proprietary directors and their employees. This includes an equivalent tax credit, the abolition of the 3% USC surcharge for the self-employed and a voluntary social welfare safety net.
    2. Build on the measures announced in Budget 2016 to bring CGT down to 20%, with a 10% rate for entrepreneurs, up to €14mn threshold similar to the UK.
    3. Reform national public procurement policy to maximise the potential for local small businesses to win public contracts.
    4. Promote competition in the banking sector to address the excessively high interest rates paid by small businesses in Ireland compared with the Eurozone average.
SFA Chairman, AJ Noonan emphasised that significant risks have emerged with the improving economy. “The biggest risk currently facing the Irish economy is loss of competitiveness. Internationally, exchange rates, oil prices and interest rates are all strongly in Ireland’s favour, but these are aspects over which we have little control. The Irish Government and Irish businesses must ensure that our underlying competitiveness is not eroded. Demands for large-scales wage increases are entirely inappropriate with inflation running at 0%. The 6% increase in the National Minimum Wage tomorrow, poses a significant threat to smaller businesses in less-profitable domestically trading businesses, particularly in rural areas. Where small companies are giving pay increases, these are in return for clearly defined productivity improvements. Increasing property prices, insurance costs and other rising business costs must also be tackled."

In conclusion, AJ Noonan stated: “2015 has seen a number of significant developments from a small business perspective. Growth is likely to be above 7%. Unemployment has fallen below 9%. The Government has acknowledged the discrimination that self-employed people and proprietary directors are subject to in the tax system and begun to address this by introducing a partial tax credit. The marginal tax rate has fallen below 50%. From January, consumers will have more disposable income due to reductions in USC. If the new Government puts the right policies in place, 2016 will be a great year for the small business sector. A thriving small business community has the potential to create 30,000 new jobs in 2016, reinvigorate towns and villages around the country and make a significant contribution to the Irish economy.”


For further comment or interview, contact AJ Noonan, SFA Chairman, at tel: 086 259 2610