Addressing the CBI annual dinner in Cardiff tonight (Friday December 4) he will praise both the private and public sectors for rolling up their sleeves and working together to address the impact of the global downturn.
The First Minister will say:
“Wales has been hit hard by the downturn but all the key Welsh stakeholders have fought back hard and pulled together remarkably well in pooling ideas and introducing initiatives to keep business in business, to keep business in Wales and to win business for Wales.
“Right at the beginning of this process, it was the remarkable and historic joint CBI Wales/Wales TUC paper, presented to the first economic summit last autumn, which kick-started the fightback against the recession.
“With that in place, we could respond with Welsh local government, the voluntary sector and academics to co-ordinate all our efforts to keep the rise in unemployment, in business failures and in mortgage repossessions to a minimum. The economic summits have been the glue which has held the Welsh economy together in tough times.
The First Minister will also say that tackling the recession has shown the real dividends of devolution:
“We always have an open door for business and trade union leaders – even more so during a recession. The economic summits are not talking shops.
“We know that governments have no monopoly on wisdom. We do not take the credit for the ProAct scheme, for example. It was an idea that emerged from the business world at an economic summit. The response to it does reflect credit on our agility as an administration. In peacetime I doubt if any government has worked up a proposal from a raw idea to a workable scheme between November and January before. I am proud of Welsh business coming up with the idea in the same way that I am proud we responded as fast as we did!
“On the same theme of agile government, Wales can take a lot of credit for having more families benefiting from the Mortgage Rescue Scheme that England and Scotland – and that’s not per head of population; that is the raw figure: 196 cases in Wales compared with 176 in England and Scotland put together.
“Now are starting to think about how to assist Welsh business into the recovery phase by taking the ProAct programme training subsidy element into the kind of multi-skilling areas that will be so important to win new business for Welsh companies.
“Wales’ business community needs a government prepared to back key investment decisions with a much more focused approach and ready to back good ideas. The key investment in the future will be the skills base, the infrastructure, university powerhouses for new technology and the access to finance. Grants will play their part, but it will be an investment culture. The winners of the future need to be high tech, lean, niche, global and green.
“Together, through partnership, we can make sure that the Welsh economy, coming out of the recession, is much more resilient and sustainable.”
4 December 2009