To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the latest ranking from the World Bank Doing Business Report which states that Ireland have dropped to No. 17 in the world; the measures he will put in place to improve this ranking; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Anthony Lawlor.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015.

Ref No: 38394/15


Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Mr. Bruton)
Since its introduction, the Action Plan for Jobs has recognised the fundamental link between competitiveness and job creation, and has been the key mechanism to drive competitiveness in all areas of economic activity. All of the Action Plans to date have provided a sharp focus on specific aspects of the competitiveness agenda, particularly in the area of costs, improving Ireland’s global competitiveness ranking and making it easier to start, run and scale a business. We have improved the incentives for investment and work, improved access to finance for business, streamlined regulatory processes and reduced the administrative burdens on business. Our domestic cost base has improved making enterprises trading from Ireland more competitive on international markets. The exporting sectors of the economy, particularly companies supported by EI and IDA are creating jobs at record levels and Ireland’s traditional assets (such as our competitive taxation regime, highly skilled and innovative workforce, and pro-enterprise regulatory environment) have been strengthened.

As a result of our concerted efforts to improve competitiveness, Ireland’s relative international competitiveness as measured by a range of international indices has improved. Ireland moved from 24th to 16th in the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook, from 29th to 24th in the WEF Global Competitiveness Report and 17th out of 189 countries, up two places on last year as assessed by the World Bank. The Bank’s latest report published last week shows Ireland is now ranked 4th in the euro area in terms of ease of doing business and has moved from 19th in 2014 to a rank of 17th among all countries benchmarked.

This is a positive result for Ireland. It is evidence that the implementation of high-level reforms and more other efficiencies and improvements are reflected in the business and regulatory environment. However, there is no room for complacency. The report shows international competition is intense and incessant. There is increased competition this year, with most EU Member States making up ground and improving their position relative to Ireland’s. While we have made improvements in a number of areas, for example, reducing the costs of starting a business – in relative terms other countries have improved more. The report highlights that maintaining our strong international competitiveness performance requires constant progress. The Action Plan for Jobs is the key mechanism to drive further reforms which will continue to improve the Ease of Doing Business for Irish SMEs.

We will maintain an unrelenting focus on improving our competitiveness performance and as part of the preparation of the 2016 Action Plan for Jobs. The immediate challenge is to sustain the recovery underway by remaining competitive. There is a continuing and urgent necessity to enhance the regulatory environment for start-ups, and for SMEs to enable them to trade successfully in increasingly competitive global markets. I will shortly receive the advice of the National Competitiveness Council on the priority areas for the coming period. Further actions and reforms driven by the 2016 Action Plan for Jobs will enable us to further narrow the gap with the world’s most competitive countries and achieve our objective of sustainable full employment.