ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, has launched a list of questions for candidates in the forthcoming general election. 

ISME wants the next government to end the tax and social welfare discrimination against small and medium enterprises, reduce business costs and introduce an independent public sector pay commission. 

It pointed out that SME owner-managers pay more tax than their employees, despite the fact that they are the job-creators. 

Mark Fielding of ISME also says the cost of childcare is preventing many parents from participating in the labour force, making it more difficult for SMEs to hire and retain good staff.  

"The next administration has a chance to implement real change for SMEs as long as they have the courage of their convictions and are willing to 'think small first'. Among the priority areas in the next programme for government must be self-employed tax equalisation, business cost reduction and public sector value for money", Mr Fielding added.

ISME questions to election candidates

1. Will you end the tax discrimination against the self-employed and proprietary directors? 

2. What will you do to improve SME Access to Finance? 

3. How will you address state influenced costs such as local authority rates & charges, insurance and government taxes on transport, to mention just a few?

4. Will you help employers to create more employment by reinstating the 4.25% rate of Employers PRSI on low paid employees?

5. Is the roll-out of adequate broadband to all areas a priority for you?

6. Will you reinstate redundancy rebates?

7. High Capital Gains Tax rates are dissuading Owner-managers from passing on their business through succession or sale. Will you reduce the rate?

8. How will you remove the obstacles blocking SME access to Public Procurement?

9. What is your plan to cut childcare costs?

10. Will you ensure there is further investment in the area of employee training paid from the National Training Fund?  

11. Will you change the useless legislation on prompt payments?

12. Will you vote for an Independent Public Sector Pay Commission?