Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise & Innovation Robert Troy says many businesses will continue to struggle after the COVID-19 pandemic because the government has failed to address a range of very serious issues facing business across the country.

He was commenting after the government announced a new package of measures aimed at supporting businesses.

Deputy Troy said, “While the measures unveiled today will provide some relief for businesses, they do not tackle the very urgent need to address the high interest rate being charged on government loans, business interruption insurance and rent payments. These are three of the biggest issues that business owners are facing and they are warning that unless these are tackled, many of them will not see it though to Christmas.

“I have been listening to and working with business owners since these restrictions were implemented and three of the main issues that came up time and again was access to low interest loans, insurance and rent. And unfortunately, today’s government announcement does little to address any of these.

“Today’s measures do not address the high interest rate that the government is charging on its microfinance and loan guarantee schemes. These offer rates of around 4%; despite the fact that government can borrow at rates of less than 0.25%. Small and medium businesses are paying the price at a time when they cannot afford to.

“Both the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Business have completely failed to deal with the issue of business interruption cover. They have adopted a hands-off approach to the insurance industry and shops, cafes, restaurants and other businesses are not receiving any sort of compensation from their insurers despite having full business interruption cover. The situation is scandalous.

“Today’s announcement also failed to give any clarity on how commercial leases will be dealt with. Small businesses in shopping centres or rented buildings across the country are at the mercy of institutional landlords, who may be unwilling to accommodate any breaks in rent. There has been no guidance from the government on this issue at all and many smaller business owners fear huge bills that they simply can’t pay.

“These initiatives may provide some relief for businesses but they fail to address the bigger issues that so many business owners are facing. Unfortunately, unless the government sets out a roadmap to deal with these issues, many of the smaller businesses simply won’t make it out the other side.”