Fianna Fáil Jobs and Enterprise Spokesperson Niall Collins T.D has said that while there have been limited progress in today’s Budget announcement, he is still fearful for Irish businesses as Brexit comes fast down the tracks.
“There is a lack of detail with regard to a number of the proposals announced. We’ve heard ideas before from the Government on Brexit, and nothing happened in the end.
“The announcement of a €300m SME loan scheme for businesses exposed to the UK market is a positive development, a lot more detail is needed on when it will be operational and how it will actually be funded.
“The Minister today suggested that it will require a considerable amount of private funding. This needs clarity urgently.
“Once again, the absence of a non-loan based support model in this Budget, such as an enterprise stabilisation fund, to directly fund vulnerable exporting businesses from a hard Brexit is very worrying.
“Additionally, the decision to allocate just €3 million to fund the hiring of additional staff hire in the Department to deal with the challenges of Brexit is disturbing.
“The fact that the Taoiseach’s Strategic Communications Unit will end up getting more funding than this entire department will get for new Brexit staff hires cannot be ignored.
“We engaged in a professional manner with the Government ahead of this announcement to ensure that those working as self-employed and those involved in creating jobs were supported.
“This was a key priority in the Confidence & Supply arrangement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
“The increase in the earned income tax credit and the SME share option scheme to retain skilled talent should be welcomed.
“However, Fine Gael has failed to meet its own commitment under the Programme for Government for full equalisation with the PAYE credit by 2018.
“Full equalisation is a core Fianna Fail policy, which we will continue to campaign on. Ensuring that the self-employed receive additional social protection supports is also a key priority.
“An entire new suite of supports, and financing, needs to be put on the table by the Government for Irish SMEs. The existential threat of Brexit seems to have been overlooked by the Government again in this Budget,” concluded Collins.