March 13, 2020
Government must consider commercial rates ‘holiday’ for SMEs and sectors affected by Coronavirus outbreak – Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has written to the Minister for Finance requesting the consideration of a number of proposals to provide relief for small businesses and sectors experiencing cash flow problems as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Among the measures proposed, Deputy Doherty asked the Ministers for Finance and Housing, Planning & Local Government to consider a commercial rates “holiday” for a period of up to 3 months for SMEs and affected sectors such as leisure, tourism and hospitality.

Speaking today, the Donegal TD said:

“Yesterday I wrote to the Minister for Finance requesting a meeting with himself and the Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government to discuss a range of policy initiatives that have been and could be taken to provide support for sectors who face a very difficult period in the weeks and months ahead.

“A number of sectors will face significant cash flow problems in the time ahead, due to a reduction in trade, tourism, and more recent measures implemented by Government.

“While I welcome the flexibility shown by Revenue to facilitate Phased Payment Arrangements for companies experiencing temporary cash flow problems, it may be necessary to offer further supports and certainty to struggling businesses and sectors who will struggle to meet tax payments as a result of economic impact of the Coronavirus outbreak and associated measures.

“I have therefore requested a meeting to discuss measures which will be implemented to support sectors of our economy and a range of practicable measures which could be pursued to provide certainty and relief to businesses and consumers, including but not confined to:

– Implementing a commercial rates “holiday” for the hospitality, tourism, retail and SME sectors for a prescribed period of time, such as 3 months, with the Central Exchequer funding the shortfall in revenue experienced by local authorities;

– Facilitating the deferral of VAT payments for the hospitality, tourism, retail and SME sectors for a prescribed period of time, such as 3 months;

– The scrapping of charges for card transactions, including contactless and chip-and-pin transactions to include non-cash payments.

“We recognise these measures will bring costs to the Exchequer, and at a time when an all-island approach is crucial, we are acutely aware that financial constraints exist for public finances in the North where they do not in the South. What is essential is that we do what we can as an island to deliver a coordinated response to this challenge.

“This will be a difficult time for workers and many of our indigenous sectors, and we must work together to respond to this challenge in the interests of workers and families.”

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