The creation of jobs as a condition of grant aid under seafood business development and seafood processing schemes to ensure that the maximum number of jobs are created and maintained in the seafood processing sector is vital, Donegal TD Thomas Pringle has stated.
“Operated by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Seafood Processing Business Investment Scheme which began in 2010 had the creation of employment as a key element in the selection of seafood processing projects for financial assistance under the Scheme, but it was not mandatory.
“Speaking in reply to questions posed by me Minister Coveney stated that he is proposing to change grant support for ‘value added’ processing from 25% to 30%, and reduce the grant rate for ‘processing improvements’ to 20% in an effort to steer this sector towards value added processing to encourage diversification and job creation.
“But grant announcements are misleading for workers in the fishing industry as it appears from grant announcements that are made that they are linked to the number of jobs, but that these jobs are more aspirational and not really the deciding factor.
“For example the Killybegs High Level Group Report in June 2011 announced the creation of 250 jobs based on grant approvals, but these jobs are not a condition of grant aid making it difficult to verify if these jobs have been created and where.
“While I welcome the increase in the value added grant, there needs to be a focus on it creating jobs and I am calling on the Minister to create that concrete link by making job creation a condition for such grants,” stated Pringle.