Coronavirus / Covid-19
Government leaders are coming under sustained pressure to come to the aid of stricken local businesses as Ireland’s coronavirus emergency takes hold.
Dozens of firms, from pubs and restaurants to various other retailers have shut their doors for the foreseeable future over the past number of days to try and keep a lid on the spread of Covid-19.
It has also sparked an outpouring of lobbying and various other supporting pleas from local politicians over the past seven days.
Longford/Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty called on Longford County Council to take a sympathetic view when it comes to the payment of commercial rates as the impact of the Covid-19 virus takes hold.
He said he has written to the Council's Chief Executive, Paddy Mahon; and Director of Finance, John McKeon, advising the local authority to be flexible when it comes to commercial rates and specifically businesses that genuinely cannot afford payments as a result of the crisis.
"These steps are necessary so that businesses can keep a positive cash flow,” he said.
“Many local small and medium sized businesses will face very significant cash flow issues in the short-term and the Revenue need to adopt a flexible and supportive role.
“For example, businesses that make a VAT return but cannot make the payment should be allowed to defer the payment without the imposition of any interest or penalties."
His Fine Gael opposite number, Peter Burke TD insisted a suite of supports will be made available to businesses in Longford impacted by Covid-19.
Local businesses are being urged to Peter Burke said: “I know that this is a worrying time for businesses and I want to assure them that my Fine Gael colleague, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, her Department and agencies are working on their behalf to develop and deliver a range of supports to help them through this rapidly evolving situation.
“Understandably, many businesses are very concerned about their cashflow in the coming weeks. I want to reassure them that there are a number of schemes that can help them meet their short-term working capital and liquidity needs.
He said the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have put a range of supports in place, including:
• A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website https://sbci.gov.ie/
• A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.
• The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises – (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) - are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website https://microfinanceireland. ie/ or through your local LEO.
• The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the Pillar Banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to 7 years.”
Meanwhile, Longford County Councillor Micheal Carrigy said he would be bringing a motion to the next local authority meeting over the crisis.
Cllr Carrigy said it was imperative the Council showed solidarity to those firms affected by the fallout.
“I will be looking for a relaxation in rates demands to be reflective of the length of time a business is closed for,” he added.