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Drastic measures are now needed to help SMEs – TD

March 29th, 2020 11:50 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Apple Betty's in Skibbereen which closed this week, along with many West Cork cafés and restaurants, in the face of the Covid crisis. (Photo: Anne Minihane)

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CORK South West Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan has called for the introduction of drastic measures to help out the SME sector which is on its knees due to the coronavirus outbreak.

‘There are some very brave business people out there who have made incredibly brave decisions in the interest of public health.  I salute them and I am very proud of them for making these decisions,’ said Deputy O’Sullivan.

‘However, those decisions have come at a cost to them and their employees and we now as a State must intervene to help them out.’

Deputy O’Sullivan commended the public health officials and the government on some of the steps that they have introduced in order to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus,

‘Closing down schools, mass gatherings and pubs was the correct decision. However, now we need to start thinking of the impact that this will have on people’s lives, particularly, financially.’

He said he welcomed the new social welfare payments to cater for the self-employed and their employees who lost their jobs but now he said, more needs to be done.

‘There are steps that we can take to ease the burden especially on SMEs. For example, there should be a suspension on PRSI payments, a suspension on rates, and a suspension on VAT payments and, as I called for at the very outset of this outbreak, we need to see the reduction of VAT in the hospitality sector, back to 9% straight away.’

He said there are other steps we can take. ‘In some countries, to help the SME sector, they have suspended rent payments and the banks have suspended loan payments.  We have to look at all these options in order to help the SME sector get back on its feet.

‘These are unprecedented times. In just 24 hours, over 140,000 jobs went nationally and in many ways it was unavoidable, but now we need to bounce back and we need to show solidarity with people throughout all sectors of life and I propose that we take these drastic measures immediately.’

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