Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath, Imelda Munster, has criticised the government’s approach to supporting small businesses ahead of Brexit.
The government stated that additional supports will only be provided in the case of hard Brexit, with very little forthcoming should Britain leave the EU at the end of the month with a deal.
Deputy Munster has compared the government’s budget with Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget, which provided for a €2billion Brexit Stabilisation fund.
Sinn Féin’s Alternative Budget also included measures such as additional funding for Intertrade Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Local Enterprise Offices in order to support small businesses, in particular those located along the border.
Deputy Munster said:
“This government is only willing to invest in small businesses in the case of a hard Brexit. The budget measures announced will only come into place if there’s no deal, and the money will be borrowed.
“We are not sure what these supports are, because there was no detail in the budget.
“Sinn Féin has shown in our budget how it is possible to invest in vulnerable SMEs regardless of what kind of Brexit we have.
“Small, exporting businesses whose main market is Britain are going to take a hit regardless of how Brexit happens.
“The government ignores this fact and is only willing to offer support in a worst case scenario.
“This is typical of Fine Gael, who are only interested in big businesses, and prefer to offer tax breaks and other goodies to foreign multi-nationals who can up and leave at the drop of a hat, leaving the government with a gaping hole in their tax take.
“Sinn Féin put forward several proposals to support SMEs, including additional funding to Intertrade Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta, as well as a restricting plan for Local Enterprise Offices which would double their staff and allow them greater freedom in working with small businesses.
“We also made €2billion available under the Brexit Stabilisation Fund to deal with whatever type of Brexit we have to deal with in the coming months. It offers space to react to the issues that Brexit will throw at us.
“The government put forward no plan in this budget for a managed Brexit, and only a promise to borrow €650million in the case of a no deal Brexit, with no accompanying plan for that sum.”