#Budget18: Government plans to mitigate Brexit fallout with multi-million euro loans scheme

TheGovernment's plan to mitigate against a looming Brexit is a multi-million euro loans scheme for small business.

#Budget18: Government plans to mitigate Brexit fallout with multi-million euro loans scheme

TheGovernment's plan to mitigate against a looming Brexit is a multi-million euro loans scheme for small business.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said low-cost borrowing will be targeted at traders uniquely exposed to the UK market and those most at risk from the split from Europe - farmers and food firms.

It is worth €300m and is designed to ease cash flow issues.

"As the impact of Brexit unfolds over the coming years, it is clear that there are likely to be permanent changes in our trade patterns," Mr Donohoe said.

Graphics below from @IRLDeptFinance and @IRLDeptPER.

"Small and medium businesses will need to innovate and increasingly look to new European and international markets other than the UK."

On top of the loans scheme is another €25m in funds for the agri-food sector which employs 173,000 people in Ireland.

To support these businesses 40 new staff will be hired to work with the state's enterprise agencies and agriculture chiefs will also have €50m specifically aimed at easing the fallout from Brexit.

An extra €23m will also go to boost Ireland's embassy teams around the world.

Business lobbyists, including the British Irish Chamber which has been deeply focused on the impact on Brexit, gave a broad welcome.

Eoin O'Neill, president of the organisation, said easier access to loans would give small businesses much needed support.

"Greater funding for the state agencies will go some way towards supporting those businesses that are particularly exposed to Brexit," he said.

Joe Healy, president of the Irish Farmers' Association, said access to competitive loans for farmers is hugely important.

"It is important that this funding is available to farmers across all sectors for investment and working capital, and must include farmers in enterprises that are under particular pressure, including the tillage and mushroom sectors, due to poor price returns," he said.

One sector already feeling the pinch from a looming Brexit is tourism and hospitality in some parts of the country as the collapse in sterling has made it more expensive for the millions of visitors from the UK to come to Ireland.

A special reduced 9% VAT rate, introduced at the height of the Republic's recession, has been retained.

Mr O'Neill said it was "a sensible and necessary measure".

He added: "While there are positive measures within this budget, Ireland is about to go through one of the biggest economic shocks in the history of the State, and we feel the budget strategy should reflect that."

But the Chamber said it was disappointed that there was no boost for tax incentives for workers relocating to Ireland.

"In order to make certain that Ireland is best prepared for Brexit, we need the Government to make brave choices that will help improve the competitiveness of Irish business," Mr O'Neill said.

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