Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Robert Troy, has said the Government must do more to support Irish businesses.
Deputy Troy said there were still major issues surrounding commercial rents and commercial rates while many businesses were unsure about signing up to the COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme.
In response Fianna Fáil have published a Bill to protect struggling businesses from evictions during the COVID-19 emergency. The Bill prevents any evictions for businesses in commercial leases for the period of the crisis. The Party has also called for commercial rates to be suspended for the rest of the year for affected businesses.
He explained, “The Government have been too complacent in reacting to the challenges facing businesses. For a number of weeks now Fianna Fáil has been calling for the suspension on commercial rates for businesses who have had to close their doors.
“A two month freeze on commercial rates just doesn’t go far enough; it needs to be extended until the end of the year. I’m hearing on the ground that businesses are going to be asked to make up any missed rates payments once they are operational again, this cannot happen.
“No business could have foreseen the crisis which would be on their doors in the first quarter of 2020. For businesses to continue paying rents when their doors are closed, and they have nothing coming in is very difficult. Landlords need to work with their commercial tenants and reach a fair agreement.
“On top of all that there are many SMEs who are struggling to get their head around the wage subsidy scheme with many employees opting for the social welfare COVID-19 pandemic payment as they are afraid they could lose out through the wage subsidy scheme. There needs to be greater clarity from Government on this scheme.
“Fianna Fáil are trying to fight for SMEs and we have published legislation to ensure that businesses cannot be evicted from their premises during this emergency period and that rates are suspended for affected businesses until the end of the year. We want to ensure that businesses can negotiate a fair agreement with landlords and get back to generating revenue once the crisis is over.
“We know that this virus will pass, we need to ensure that sustainable, viable businesses are protected during it so that employees have jobs to return to in a number of weeks or months,” he concluded.