25 May 2000 Edition

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IDB must come clean on figures - O'Hagan


Sinn Féin's Assembly member for Upper Bann, Dara O'Hagan, has called on the Industrial Development Board (IDB) to come clean on the actual job creation record of the board over the past year.

O'Hagan said in a statement: ``Last week the IDB published its job creation figures for 1999. Last Thursday, I met IDB representatives and asked them how many IDB jobs were actually promoted in the 12 months to the end of March. They produced a figure of 7,145 ``jobs promoted''.

However, of this 7,145 jobs promoted, there was only a total net gain in IDB-backed jobs of 1,609 over the 12 months to the end of March. Another 2,931 jobs were ``safeguarded''. This is an appallingly low figure and raises serious questions about the IDB's operations.''

It also raises questions about the IDB's figures for the average cost per job to them. In 1999, the IDB said that the average cost of promoting a job was £9,507 per job in the past year. The real cost of new jobs created could be in reality far higher than the IDB figures actually say.

O'Hagan told An Phoblacht: ``Given that the IDB invested over £85 million sterling in job creation, this could be calculated to say that in order to produce a net gain of 1,609 jobs the IDB spent nearly £53,000 per job.

``There is also need for a review of their operations in promoting local economic development projects and jobs in indigenous companies, which even they admit fell seriously in the 12 months to the end of March for the second year running.''

Of the 7,145 new jobs negotiated by IDB in the year to March, only 561 were in locally-owned companies. Two out of three private sector employees in the Six Counties now work for externally owned companies.

Finally there is the issue of the IDB's relationship with its 26-County counterpart, the Industrial Development Authority (IDA). The two bodies had their first joint board meeting during the week but are still very much in competition. The IDB went so far as to say they had won some substantial head-to-head battles with the IDA over the last year. While this may seem like good news for the IDB, it is in fact only raising the cost of creating jobs while transnational companies play one development agency off against another.

An Phoblacht
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