Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue has expressed alarm at the extremely low rate of Brexit loan funds approved for food companies.
Deputy McConalogue explained, “We are just 61 days away from the March 29th deadline for the UK to exit the EU. It is unbelievable that the Government’s much vaunted Brexit working capital loan scheme announced in October 2017 is failing to deliver for Ireland’s most exposed sector.
“The Departments of Business and Agriculture have jointly leveraged exchequer funding to create a €300 million loan scheme for businesses impacted by Brexit, with 40% of the fund ring-fenced for the food sector.
“However, latest PQ replies released to me show that out of 42 eligible applications for food companies, just eight have been sanctioned for finance under this loan scheme. Shockingly, this means that just 1 in 5 eligible loan applications for the sector have actually been approved for funding worth €3.8m.
“Worse still, this equates to just over 1% of the total €300 million loan having been approved for food companies so far. This is another example the Government failing to operationalise supports and contingencies that work seamlessly for exposed businesses as opposed to being administratively burdensome.
“Given how the food sector has almost 80% of its employment based outside of Dublin, any impact from Brexit will have strong regional employment consequences. Minister Creed and his government colleagues must now immediately seek market disturbance supports along with state aid rule changes in order to operationalise grant aided schemes to support farmers and the agri-food sector. Waiting to close the stable door after the horse has bolted is not a prudent approach”, concluded Deputy McConalogue.
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