Sinn Féin spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Imelda Munster TD has expressed serious concerns around the government’s commitment to supporting small and medium sized businesses in surviving the Covid-19 crisis, saying that the Programme for Government offers no firm commitments to SMEs.
Teachta Munster said:
“It is very concerning that the Programme for Government published this week offered no commitments in terms of grant aid or interest free loans for SMEs. There is mention of the possibility of further grants and the exploration of affordable loans, but what SMEs actually need is additional grant aid and zero interest loans. They are blue in the face saying it and yet they continue to be ignored.
“There is a worry now about the government’s commitment towards SMEs and indigenous Irish businesses.
“The Programme for Government has made it clear that nothing will change in terms of the preferential treatment that has long been afforded to FDI by successive governments.
“There was a strong emphasis on retraining workers who will lose their jobs during this crisis. This is a reasonable and prudent initiative, but it must not be prioritised above supports for SMEs.
“Now is not the time to give up on Irish business. Now is the time to offer them all the support we can to weather this storm.
“Thousands of businesses had to close for several months through no fault of their own. They did everything that was asked of them. Business owners and workers have paid the price in the last three months. Now it’s time to put our energy into helping them back to work.
“The document also ignores some of the major issues that have been damaging Irish business of all types and sizes for years – a lack of investment in our state’s infrastructure. This means housing, transport infrastructure, rural connectivity and broadband, and basic services like childcare.
“Until these matters are addressed businesses and communities will fail to thrive, and the government is ignoring its obligations in this regard.
“The Programme for Government ticks a lot of boxes, and name-checks a lot of issues of importance, but it doesn’t actually commit to doing very much.
“The document pledges to establish 20 new groups, including task-forces, agencies and committees, and has promised 73 reviews of policies and legislation and the like.
“Talk is cheap. What we need are fully-costed, firm commitments from government to prioritise and support SMEs at this time.
“I am asking the three parties to listen to SMEs and deliver for them. I hope that we will see grants and interest free loans included in the July stimulus package. Anything less will mean disaster for thousands of businesses across the State.”