Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise & Innovation, Robert Troy and Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism, and Sport Marc MacSharry TD are calling on the government to urgently set up a business taskforce to advise on the rapid responses needed in the business community during Covid-19.

Many small and medium sized businesses across the country will face very significant cashflow issues in the short-term with existing supports not going far enough with many business contacting both Deputy Troy and Deputy MacSharry over the weekend to express their concerns.

Deputy Troy said: “An expert business taskforce must be established as soon as possible. The Government must set up a taskforce with the brightest and sharpest business minds advising on the rapid response needed. This is a clear public health issue, but it is also an economic issue and failing to take the appropriate steps now for businesses now will see wide scale unemployment for prolonged periods. We cannot allow this to happen.

“I have been contacted by several businesses over the weekend who have huge concerns as Covid-19 takes hold. Many businesses have said they cannot access the existing supports announced by the government. I believe Minister Humphreys needs to respond to the urgent supports needed to help sustain viable business.

“Businesses need to see additional supports such as a VAT Rebate and an agreement with the European Central Bank to allow loan re-payments deferrals while not compromising business’ long term credit ratings.

Deputy MacSharry added: “Businesses everywhere are facing an unprecedented situation and need to know that they will be able to keep going. Greater supports are needed in the form of deferral of VAT and PRSI tax payments where the businesses are experiencing cashflow problems.

“The Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) liquidity loans which were announced by Minister Humphreys last week should be processed in a timely manner but from what businesses have been telling me over the weekend, this is not the case and we need to see urgent action. The Minister needs to make additional money available, the current €1.5m available at reduced rates needs to be increased to meet the demands.

“The Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government should direct Local Authorities to be flexible when it comes to commercial rates returns for businesses that genuinely cannot afford payments as a result of this crisis. Minister Humphreys must urgently take action to help businesses that are already struggling.”

“Bars, restaurants and other businesses need the government to provide certainty today as to whether they should close. The Government need to be unequivocal on this point. Social distancing has not been working and business owners want decisive direction on what to do to play their part,” concluded Deputy MacSharry.