ISME's Fielding: 'Civil service views small business like black economy'

Mark Fielding told the Irish Independent that small businesses consistently face difficulty in making their voice heard in government circles.

"We don't have the ability to bring people off on junkets...the photo opportunities for a small business down in Thurles that opens and has three employees, it's not a photo op for a minister, but when some foreign direct investment comes in and promises to create eight million jobs in the next 47 years, Jesus, there's photographs from cover to cover," he said.

“Most of the taxation stuff, it’s big business do their lobbying and get [what they want], because governments actually listen to big business more than they do to small business, and that’s quite evident from this budget.”

Mr Fielding said the fact that self-employed people earning over €100,000 will have to pay a higher rate of USC than PAYE workers showed “the mentality of the permanent government and the politicians.”

“It’s the message that goes out, where we hear small business is the backbone of the economy, but their money isn’t where their mouth is.”

“That’s been a pattern forever. Governments change, but the permanent government stays…now it’s changing, slowly but surely it is changing, but in my many years of dealing with the civil service, there is that attitude, when you go in to talk to them it’s ‘Oh, what loophole are you trying to get through now,’ rather than listening to what we’re saying.”

Mr Fielding said there needs to be a parity of esteem for small businesses and multinationals.

His comments came before the ISME annual conference, which is taking place in Dublin's RDS today.

ISME chairman Eamonn Kielty echoed Mr Fielding’s comments in his address to delegates, saying the government should “stop, once and for all, the discriminatory tax system in relation to the self-employed.”

“The efforts of entrepreneurs must be recognised and rewarded, and this is true for policymakers at all levels and for society at large. Too often entrepreneurs are perceived as greedy free riders who are responsible for all the world’s problems. This must change,” Mr Kielty said.

Irish Independent

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