Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD and spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Imelda Munster TD have written to the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation requesting additional liquidity supports for SMEs.
Measures they have proposed include an extension of the commercial rates waiver, a new zero interest Back to Business Loan Scheme and grants paid directly to SMEs in affected sectors such as Retail, Tourism and Hospitality.
Teachta Doherty said:
“Today, Sinn Féin have written to the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation requesting additional supports for SMEs that have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“According to the Central Bank, there are more than 220,000 SMEs – that together employ more than 750,000 people – that have been severely or moderately impacted by Covid-19.
“Economic recovery and return to employment for tens of thousands of workers can only happen if our SMEs recover. They can only do that with proper support from government.
“The supports put in place thus far have been totally inadequate.
“Between 23rd March and 11th May, not a single loan was approved to SMEs under the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme. Up to 7th May, less than €7 million in loans had been granted to small and micro enterprises under Microfinance Ireland’s Covid-19 loan scheme.
“SMEs need support and they are not getting enough of it.
“Today Sinn Féin are calling for a number of measures that would provide immediate relief and working capital to SMEs, including:
- An SME Grant Scheme; similar to that introduced by the Northern Executive and Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy where one-off grants of £10,000 and £25,000 were provided to SMEs. The current policy in the south of providing grants equivalent to no more than a firm’s 2019 commercial rates bill is totally inadequate to address the cash flow problems that our SMEs are experiencing.
- A Back to Business Loan Scheme that would provide loans of between €2,000 and €60,000 for small firms, with a 100% guarantee to participating finance providers. Unlike the current SME Credit Guarantee Scheme, SMEs would not be required to make any repayments in the first 12 months with zero interest rates applied.
- Reducing the cost of borrowing under existing government loan schemes such as the Covid-19 loan scheme through Microfinance Ireland by applying zero interest rates in the first 12 months.
- Extending the commercial rates waiver for a further three months, with an additional three month deferral available for affected businesses.
“These are policies that should be implemented as soon as possible to support our SMEs – who are the backbone of our economy.
“Without the recovery of our SMEs, there will be no economic recovery.”