By Stephen McKinley
Egypt’s top information technology official will visit Ireland soon as part of a fact-finding mission. Ahmed Nazif, minister of state for communications and information, will attend a conference and discuss Ireland’s high-tech success, hoping to bring valuable knowledge back to his home country.
Egypt wants to become a regional hub in the Middle East for telecommunications.
Nazif also plans to visit France for similar talks.
Stabright, a Limerick stainless steel manufacturing firm, has collapsed under debts of £1.1 million.
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The company’s manufacturing plant had been losing money and no foreign investments were forthcoming. Employees are owed £76,000, managing director Christopher Ruddle is owed £47,000, and its parent company, Stabright Fabrication, is owed £110,000.
The company has realizable assets of £374,000 and a deficit of £725,000.
The Revenue Commissioners are owed £480,000, and 90 trade creditors, mainly from the Limerick area, are due £713,000.
Stabright had accumulated losses of £454,000 for the financial year to end 2000.
As the Irish government liberalizes its licensing laws, pubs and bars will face increased competition from cafes and restaurants. A cabinet subcommittee is reported to be preparing a report that will endorse proposals to curb increasing drink prices, including a new price freeze and plans to give drink licenses to cafes and restaurants in Dublin.
Irish workers earn less
A union conference has been told that Irish workers earn 28 percent less than the overall European average salary, which is the third lowest in the EU. The EU averages £28,000 a year, against Ireland’s £20,000. Even though Irish workers pay less in tax, they still come out 14 percent behind.
McCreevy on recession
Ireland’s minister of finance, Charlie McCreevy, has warned that European officials, who are expecting Europe to avoid the worst effects of an economic downturn in the U.S., are wrong.
Wim Duisenberg, president of the European Central Bank, had claimed that the EU was practically self-contained, and therefore would avoid downturns outside of the eurozone.
The ECB has been called upon by a number of EU finance ministers to cut interest rates without delay. Duisenberg insists on maintaining his wait-and-see policy.
Top NI 100
Latest annual earnings figures in Northern Ireland show that supermarket giant Tesco holds the top spot, edging ahead of Bombardier ‘rospace and the Post Office.
Two years ago, Bombardier was in the top slot but was beaten by Tesco last year as well, reports the Belfast Telegraph.
The fourth spot goes to BT Northern Ireland, but the biggest surprise was Sainsbury’s fall from last year’s eighth place to 21st.
Banks to merge?
The newly appointed governor of the Bank of Ireland has said that Irish banks will have to merge to survive.
Laurence Crowley, addressing the Institute of Directors, said that because of the increase in the number of foreign-owned banks operating in Ireland, the big institutions will have to consolidate their position.
"To date there is little sign of any great interest in cross-border banking mergers," he said. "Although it is very dangerous to make such a prediction, I believe that the potential predators have not yet seriously considered major acquisitions in Ireland. However, it seems inevitable that this will change."
Three of Northern Ireland’s biggest banks have their headquarters in Dublin.
Four Northern Irish companies — AVX of Coleraine, Randox Laboratories of Crumlin, Thermomax of Bangor, and UPU of Dromore — have been awarded Queen’s Awards for Enterprise 2001.
At the awards ceremony, Trade Minister Sir Reg Empey said that the companies had shown expertise and innovation, from increases in exports to intelligent and environmentally-friendly new products.
"All four companies are at the leading edge of technology in their respective industrial sectors and are helping to enhance Northern Ireland’s developing reputation as a European center of innovation," he said.