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Stimulus efforts too little, too late?

Last update - Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 01:51 By Priya Rajsekar

Recent positive developments on the immigration front in Ireland give us some reason for cheer. The introduction of a citizenship ceremony and a speeding-up of the naturalisation process are welcome steps – a long way from the dark courtrooms where citizenship oaths were taken not so long ago.

On the other hand, immigrant investors are also being given sops to set up shop here. But as with most other policy decisions, Ireland seems to have dragged its feet even on this one, and it may be a case of too little, too late.
The latest development is Finance Minister Michael Noonan’s announcement of a Foreign Earnings Deduction on investments to expand into the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and South Africa for a limited period. It is hard not too feel frustrated that so much time has been lost in seizing these opportunities that may have helped the economy significantly, had they been adopted proactively. Still, it is heartening that it might inspire a few resilient investors among the immigrant population to try and make the most of what is being offered.
In this scenario, it is also pertinent to dwell on existing start-up support systems in Ireland. A great source of information and resources for new businesses, they will play a very crucial role in the success of these measures.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests that while enterprise boards are willing and happy to engage with aspiring entrepreneurs, the process is tedious and places too much emphasis on long-winded planning. Only the most conservative among us will endorse the idea that a foolproof business plan is vital to the success of a business.
Having said that, when people are unemployed and desperate to either get started or leave, the idea of spending weeks or possibly months on PowerPoint presentations, documents and spreadsheets is hardly an attractive option.
There is also perhaps some truth in the opinion that enterprise start-up support resources are more focused on traditional brick-and-mortar businesses and may not be able to provide updated expertise on newer business models and ideas suited for the wired world. Given that Ireland has achieved stupendous success in terms of attracting technology multinationals, it is quite obvious that technology businesses that provide ancillary services to these companies will open up several avenues for Irish businesses, including start-ups.
There is a screaming urgency for time and cost-efficient policies that can reinvigorate the economy. The question is if these piecemeal and delayed incentives will have the desired effect.

Priya Rajsekar is a freelance writer and co-founder of College Canteen, a student- academic social network.

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