Call for suspension of commercial rates to save small firms

The President of the Cork Business Association (CBA) has called for the temporary suspension of commercial rates and increased government supports to ensure the small business sector survives the coronavirus crisis.
Call for suspension of commercial rates to save small firms

President of the Cork Business Association Eoghan O’Sullivan in a warehouse full of food at M&P O’Sullivan’s, Sarsfield Road, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
President of the Cork Business Association Eoghan O’Sullivan in a warehouse full of food at M&P O’Sullivan’s, Sarsfield Road, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

The President of the Cork Business Association (CBA) has called for the temporary suspension of commercial rates and increased government supports to ensure the small business sector survives the coronavirus crisis.

Food wholesale boss, Eoin O’Sullivan, made his appeal as it emerged that Cork City Council issued a warning letter threatening legal action against the owner of a city centre cafe for putting tables on the road outside his premises.

Richard Jacob, of Idaho Cafe on Caroline St, said he put some tables outside for those "looking for fresh air".

The council issued a warning letter advising him that unless the street furniture was removed, he would be prosecuted.

"This is their priority as Ireland hurts," Mr Jacob said.

Mr O’Sullivan said businesses need to be supported.

"The sector needs breathing space to survive these challenging times," he said.

He also appealed to consumers not to panic-buy, insisting that supply chains are robust and well able to cope with demand.

"There is no need to stockpile. The shortages in some products we are seeing at the moment is because of panic buying. There is no need," he said.

"I would urged consumers to consider the elderly and vulnerable customers. They’re getting to the shops and in some cases they are finding the shelves are empty."

Mr O’Sullivan, the sales director of leading food wholesale business M&P O’Sullivan, was speaking at his fully-stocked warehouse in Wilton on the southside of the city where staff were busy loading trucks with product for delivery to some of their near 1,500 customers, including the entire Gala brand network, and to hotels, fast-food outlets and pubs across the region.

He said the country is going through "challenging and uncertain times" and the implications of the Covid-19 outbreak are changing by the day.

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And while he acknowledged that government has introduced some business support measures, he said more needs to done.

Reducing VAT rates and suspending commercial rates are vital, he said: "We needed that government support today. If you have no customers and yet still have to pay staff, you will burn through cash quickly.

"Government can do several small things relatively quickly to help small businesses stay afloat."

Meanwhile, the Association of Fine Jewellers has called on Finance Minister, Paschal Donoghue, to introduce an emergency VAT rate of 15% to help ease the impact of coronavirus on its members, some of whom have experienced an 80% reduction in turnover.

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