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Snippet Contents:

I am sorry if Deputies do not like the sound of what I am saying, but I listened to the rubbish they spoke without interrupting them. Even if they feel my contribution is the same, the least they can do is give me the courtesy of actually listening.
The IDA supports companies that directly employ 166,000 people, and the same companies spend €7.8 billion annually on payroll and a further €12.5 billion on materials and services produced in Ireland. It seems the Members opposite want to get rid of that as well, because they have something against foreign direct investment. Do the Deputies opposite want to put another 166,000 people on the dole and get rid of the €7.8 billion payroll and the €12.5 billion that such companies invest in the country? Companies supported by Enterprise Ireland, which are mainly Irish indigenous companies, employ 175,000 people and spend €6 billion on payroll and €13.5 billion in the economy. These are significant figures and should not be thrown around or played with in the way some Members talk about policy. The Minister for Finance once commented that people in this House use kindergarten economics, but some of what the Members opposite talk about goes beyond kindergarten economics.
One of the best things the Government has done concerns unemployment. Unemployment is dropping because there has been a sector-by-sector approach to getting people back working. It is not just the Minister for Finance but all Cabinet Ministers working with him. We have made changes in agriculture and drilled into sectors. Changes made to the 9% VAT rate for the tourism sector had a dramatic effect, as acknowledged by everyone. It is a textbook example of how the Government can change something in one sector of the economy in a dramatic way. By the end of 2016, 2 million people will be working in the country. That would be impressive. The outcome of joined-up thinking by the Government is that we will see steady growth of between 3% and 4% per year for the next three to four years. Looking at big-ticket macroeconomic measures, which do not interest most people but which remain important, we have exited the EU-IMF programme. Members who were present in November 2010 will remember Ajai Chopra crossing from the Merrion Hotel to the Department of Finance. They will remember that there was almost a sense of relief that the IMF was taking over the country. It was a low point. We made changes to the IMF loans and the promissory notes which free up billions of euro over the lifetime of the loans. The rating agencies are positive about Ireland's future, and ten-year sovereign bond yields are at record lows. Recently, a 15-year bond issued by the NTMA attracted one of the lowest interest rates for this type of sovereign bond. It is forecast that gross debt ratio will drop below 100% of GDP in 2018, ahead of the reduction required by the Stability and Growth Pact, which is nothing more than living within our means. We have managed to provide services to those who are the most vulnerable in our society and also in education, health and housing. There is an expected investment of €2.2 billion in housing, where a genuine need exists, over the coming years. It is a measure of good governance rather than the hocus-pocus ideas thrown out by the Opposition in these speeches. In October 2011, unemployment was out of control, and in the three years before it peaked in 2012, 300,000 people lost their jobs.