Programme for Competitiveness and Work


The Governments clear objective for the discussions that led to this Programme was to make work at all levels the cornerstone of development action, in the next three years in particular. In doing this, the Government wish to maintain and strengthen the consensus approach of recent years, to underpin our strong economic performance, including the continued improvement of the public finances, and, critically, to deepen the competitiveness of the Irish economy. The consequent boost to growth and investment will be an essential framework for the generation of a much faster rate of employment growth.

We, Government and social partners, undertook the discussions at a particularly challenging time. The successful conclusion of the GATT negotiations should provide a significant boost to growth in the world economy over time but the short-run outlook for economic recovery in a number of our main markets is slow and uncertain.What is certain is that the degree of competition to which Irish producers are exposed is increasing, and will continue to increase, both in overseas markets and at home. The preservation of jobs and the necessary increase in sustainable employment require that we meet this increased competition head on.

I believe that this Programme translates our shared central concern with work, in terms of sustainable employment and in terms of community-based work, into a coherent strategy and a consistent set of measures to be pursued together over the coming years. I believe the confidence generated by this agreed national programme will undoubtedly help to stimulate activity across the economy, in agriculture and food, in manufacturing, in construction, in tourism and in the other growing service sectors.We must ensure that this will have benefits for the whole community. In particular, I will be taking steps to ensure that the impact of the Programme on equality is monitored on a continuing basis.
I believe the Programme can properly and realistically be seen as a Programme for Competitiveness and Work. On that basis, I thank those involved in negotiating it over a short period and commend it for implementation in partnership in the three years before us.

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