24 June 2009

Small and medium-size Businesses in Danger

Two thirds of small and medium sized businesses in Ireland are under threat due to the current economic crisis, a new survey suggests.

The data has just been published by the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association (ISME), and the business trends analysis suggests that smaller companies are facing higher reductions in employment, investment and sales.

Over 600 companies responded to the survey, and 66% said that the viability of their business will be "under threat over the next twelve months" if present conditions remain. The current business environment was described as "poor" or "very poor" by 74% of the enterprises, up from 69% in the previous quarter.

Main concern at present is the ongoing economic uncertainty.

Almost half of the companies surveyed blamed the Irish government for the economic crisis, while 31% said the financial institutions (banks) were primarily at fault.

“The latest survey figures confirm that even though smaller businesses are usually more optimistic, there is little evidence of green shoots in the sector. In fact the second quarter has proven to be more difficult than the first quarter with a noticeable deterioration in sales, employment and investment,” says Jim Curran (left), the Head of Research at ISME.

The report suggests - he added - that Ireland's small businesses are continuing to downsize, with many companies planning to reduce employment numbers and investment levels further over the next number of months.

Commenting on the report, Cork TD Deirdre Clune (right), who is Fine Gael's spokesperson on Innovation, said: “Ireland cannot tax its way out of recession, but can only trade its way out of recession. Exports and the SME sector will play a crucial role in that process.”

Well said, but - as always - friendly words do not solve problems.

All stands or falls with the government and its will and ability to make the right decisions. As long as the present Irish government is in office, there is no hope whatsoever.

A change of government - most likely to a coalition of Fine Gael and Labour Party - might offer some improvements, but I doubt that it would solve all the problems.

That can only be done if the government - regardless which party or parties form(s) it - has the will to apply major changes to our political, social and economic system.
After the serious damage inflicted on the 'traditional capitalist system' by its main players and participants, making repairs will not be enough. What we need is a completely fresh start.

I can see that small and medium-sized enterprises in Ireland and around the world are willing and ready for that.
But the reluctance of governments and most political parties is a huge obstacle. I am looking forward to the next report from ISME and wonder if we will have a chance to recover, or if the unholy alliance of Catholic Church, Fianna Fáil and greedy bankers have destroyed us for good...

The Emerald Islander

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