Saturday, January 23, 2010

Irish State should give free office space to start-ups

An article in the Irish Independent this morning reports that Brian Lenihan's economic advisor Alan Ahearne reckons the banks that the Irish taxpayer bailed out through NAMA will soon be "fit-for-purpose" and in a position to start supporting Irish firms again.

Here's this for an idea: If the taxpayer - a la our very tired Government - owns the properties of now bankrupt FF developer friends from the Galway Races Tent, why don't we provide free office space to start-up companies?

It would be a small but practical gesture from our bent so-called elite towards balancing the books. It would allow start-ups breathing space to focus on creating products for export and free cash up to stimulate the local economy through the freedom to put money that would have been rent into perhaps hiring more people or spending on other goods and services.

I know of firms struggling to survive every day. Within these firms are people with families, parents of kids with hopes and dreams. It disgusts me that we go to all the trouble of saving banks that won't lend and support companies that have been around decades.

This situation better change soon. I write this as I watch a report on Sky on the return of irresponsible bonus culture in the City of London. I completely understand Barack Obama's anger and frustration at the bonus culture in the US. A guy on Sky right now is talking about his half a million a year bonuses during the high times.

The steps Ireland has been taking have been applauded internationally, but it won't matter a hoot in the private sector until the banks support local firms.

We've stabilised the banking sector, now where's the country's stimulus plan?