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Grants scheme for businesses 'wholly inadequate' - Pearse Doherty TD

2 May, 2020 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has said that the grants scheme for small businesses announced today by the Minister for Finance is 'wholly inadequate'.

With 280,000 micro and small business operating in the State, he said that the average grant payable to firms could be less than €900.

He said:

"Micro and small enterprises make up over 98% of all firms in the State and number almost 280,000 - they are the backbone of our economy.

"The announcement today that grants of up to €10,000 are to be made available to these businesses fails to recognise the scale of the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on them and the amount allocated to this scheme is wholly inadequate.

"Given that the total amount allocated to the scheme is €250 million, the average grant payable could be less than €900 per firm.

"In comparison, grants of £10,000 are being paid in the north, and for those in the worst impacted sectors such as tourism, hospitality, retail and leisure the amount being paid is £25,000, with a total sum of over €450 million in place.

"Today's announcement also fails to recognise that many micro-enterprises have no rates base; with many of them operated from homes, other non-rateable premises or online.

"Due to the structure of these grants, this means many businesses will be left high and dry. 

"The government has also announced loans for the SME sector, which are welcome, but the core issue here is the ease of access with which businesses will be able to avail of these loans, and crucially the interest rate that applies to them. 

"The government has said that these loans will be available below commercial rates, but this is not good enough at a time when the State can borrow at negative interest rates. These should be made available at zero interest rates and I would question whether the 80% credit guarantee scheme will be sufficient to allow for the type and quantity of lending that is required to support SME's at this time.

"The three-month waiver for commercial rates for impacted businesses is long overdue, but doesn’t go far enough as the reality is that many affected businesses will still be closed in three months time and this waiver should be extended to at least six months."

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