Greater supports needed for businesses who face uncertain future – Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan, Brendan Smith, says more urgent action is needed from Government to protect struggling SMEs in Cavan-Monaghan and to protect market confidence as we descend into an unprecedented economic shock due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Deputy Smith said, “Fianna Fáil supports 100% the national battle against COVID-19 and will use every opportunity to reinforce the key public health messages being advocated by the authorities. We all have to work together to contain the spread of this virus. In addition, as a party in opposition, we have a duty to highlight what we believe has been a piecemeal, underwhelming and poorly executed economic response to date.

“In a little over a week unfortunately tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, businesses have scaled back or closed entirely and consumers are staying at home, bracing themselves for a potential cut in their household income. While the specific business supports already announced will provide some assistance, there is still a wide gap in the level of aid intensity and actions being taken in comparison to other European countries. This does not bode well for businesses in Cavan-Monaghan who have closed their doors and are unsure when they may reopen.

“There is no doubt that the scale of our response has been below the average of other developed countries. Other small open economies such as Switzerland and New Zealand have undertaken fiscal packages of 1.6% and 4% of GDP respectively while Irelands measures stand at just 0.7% of our GDP. 

“Fianna Fáil believe the Government’s package should support workers to remain in employment during the Covid-19 pandemic by rapidly increasing the subvention of wages to avoid a shock across the economy.

“However, while many countries are paying almost 80% of a person’s salary in an attempt to stem the shock, our government only recently conceded to allow businesses to top-up the basic social welfare payment for their employees and now they are preparing a new plan expected this week.

“I have heard from businesses in Cavan-Monaghan, who need supports such as a waiver of 2020 commercial rates for all business effected by COVID-19 and to see the Government engaging with insurance providers to determine what damages they could cover – considering the unprecedented challenge facing SMEs.

“There are major economic decisions to be made in the coming days and weeks that will either safeguard us through this period or plunge us into a recession. We should not be afraid to make bold decisions to protect our economy, our SME’s, and our people during this time,” concluded Deputy Smith.