Brexit support package welcome but many unanswered questions remain – Hazzard
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has welcomed a new Brexit
financial support package for businesses in the North, however has said the
British Government has left many vital questions unanswered.
The South Down MP said:
“In opposing Brexit, Sinn Féin have said from the outset that Brexit would create additional barriers and costs for businesses.
“Today’s acknowledgement from the British Government that this unavoidable avalanche of red-tape will have to be met in the first instance by the British state is a welcome first step in the British Government facing up to the costly realities of Brexit.
“In short, the announcement of this £200m support package is welcome news for those local businesses who are growing increasingly worried about the trading environment in the post-transition period in January 2021.
“However it’s clear that in the face of being unable to deliver upon the promise of “unfettered access” and “no additional burdens” the British Government are left with no choice but to pull a magic money rabbit out of the hat in an attempt to distract from the fact that their Brexit misadventure has created a mountain of red-tape and bureaucratic processes.
“Today’s announcement is not the long overdue border operating model that we have been promised, it is merely another attempt to create an IT system that will take care of the complex formalities in automating the customs process.
“Worryingly, no such system currently exists anywhere in global trading. So it is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that the system will be operational next month when the tendering process will only have been launched this month.
“The fact remains that goods entering the north of Ireland will require a customs declaration, with the new Trader Support Service (TSS) serving as the vehicle for the British Goverment to act as the Customs Agent on behalf of businesses.
“There also remains the important question of who verifies the data that this automated system collects; verification checks by customs authorities will surely still need to take place somewhere along the process.
There is also no guarantee that this package of financial support announced today will be a permanent arrangement; in fact, there is only a commitment to support it with government money for 2 years.
“There is every possibility that despite covering the cost of this transition process, that the British Government will decide that the system should be privatised and businesses will have to pay for these services.
“Much more remains to be done on key issues such as the certification requirements for Agri-Food, and the very complex dual VAT systems that will be required.
“We also need much more information on the future additional barriers and costs for local consumers purchasing goods online - which is an increasingly significant proportion of trade.
“Perhaps most significantly, local businesses are still left waiting for clarity on what “unfettered access” will look like for exporting to Britain.
“If today’s announcement is a guide, expect more money to be thrown at the inevitable barriers that can’t be wished away by fanciful pie in the sky thinking.”