Sinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade, Employment and Workers’ Rights Louise O’Reilly TD has said that, as with the July Stimulus only four months ago, Budget 2021 represents another missed opportunity for the government to support businesses and protect jobs.
Speaking this evening, Teachta O’Reilly said: “On the back of the damp squib that was the July Stimulus, this year’s budget offered the government another opportunity to support businesses and protect jobs. Unfortunately, they have spurned that opportunity again.
“The reduction in VAT from 13.5% to 9% for the tourism and hospitality sector is to be welcomed. Sinn Féin called for this to be done in our July Stimulus proposals, but it was ignored by the government then.
“We know Tánaiste Varadkar likes to claim credit for Teachta Pearse Doherty’s work on insurance reform, today we can see that Minister Donohoe and Minister McGrath like to pick up on Sinn Féin ideas too.
“Unfortunately, the government did not heed Sinn Féin advice around investing in the tourism and hospitality sector through reforming the stay-and-spend scheme so it would see a voucher system in operation, instead of tax back system, where every adult and child would be provided with a voucher worth €200 and €100 respectively, to be spend in hotels and restaurants across the State.
“Neither did they listen to the business community’s calls for help in reducing non-payroll expenses, such as commercial rates, into 2021. The government have decided to waive commercial rates only until the end of this quarter, as if Covid-19 is a virus that will end on 1st January 2021. This rates wavier should have been extended until June 2021, at a minimum, to offer greater certainty for business.
“The failure to address the flaws in the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and ensure a wage subsidy scheme that delivers for workers and businesses in affected sectors will be of significant concern to all.
“Furthermore, an expanded and increased business grant scheme should have been the first item on the Budget 2021 list for business still damaged and affected by Covid-19. Again, this was missing from today’s budget.
“The Covid Restrictions Support Scheme is welcome, but it appears somewhat convoluted with very narrow application criteria for the business that can access it. As ever with such schemes, the proof will be in how it works for those businesses that need it.
“In the run up to the budget, I warned that the risk is not that we do too much, but that we do too little. Unfortunately, the government have succumbed to that risk and the suite of measures announced for Enterprise, Trade, and Employment have fallen far short of what these sectors need.”