Timing and ambition of stimulus package questioned by Sinn Féin and business group

Timing and ambition of stimulus package questioned by Sinn Féin and business group
There have been mixed reactions to the July stimulus package from the government. Picture: Pexels

SME Recovery Ireland has described the July stimulus as a missed opportunity to pump confidence back into businesses.

It is welcoming many elements that will help the recovery, but believes the overall package does not go far enough.

Firms will be able to avail of up to €25,000 in a restart grant.

SME Recovery Chair, John Moran, says the Government's plans to kick-start recovery are coming in too late.

Mr Moran said: "A lot of the measures are good measures but they are missing the key ingredient: 'How do we get the firms back on their feet in order that they can then borrow under the Credit Guarantee Scheme and be there when firms or customers turn up in September or October?' 

Because a lot of these measures only kick in September or October and by then we fear that too many firms will just have died.

Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said that the Government’s July Stimulus Plan needed to be more ambitious, to be more targeted and fairer.

There should have been more grants, a reduction in VAT for the hospitality sector and Staycation vouchers which would have benefited everyone, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

Other countries in Europe were offering additional grants and in Northern Ireland VAT in the hospitality sector had been cut to 5%.

Too many people had been excluded from the grants which were being offered, he said. 

Grants should have been targeted towards the hospitality and tourism sector which had suffered the most impact and would take the longest to return to normal.

A reduction in VAT from 13% to 9% in the hospitality sector would have cost the Government €180 million while Staycation vouchers of €200 for adults and €100 for children would cost €860 million which would have been recouped if even half of those on the pandemic payment went back to work, said Mr Doherty.

The Tánaiste has said the emergency Covid-19 payments can be repurposed in the new year to deal with Brexit if needed.

Under the July stimulus plan the emergency pandemic payment and the wage subsidy scheme will be extended until April 2021.

However, both will be tapered to lower levels during that time with the unemployment payment eventually being reduced in line with jobseekers benefit.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said part of the decision to extend the fund was with Brexit in mind. 

Mr Varadkar said: "Brexit will happen on December 31 this year. So if you look at what's happening for example in Britain.

"They're ending their wage subsidy in October, same with Northern Ireland, they're ending their VAT cut at the end of December.

"We thought no, we actually needed a plan that runs through to the spring of next year so that it covers Brexit as well as what's happening as a result of the pandemic."

The government's new staycation tax rebate can also be used to get tax back on meals in local restaurants.

Under the plan people can get up to €125 back on €625 spent on accommodation or food bills.

Mr Varadkar said the scheme can also be used to boost local business as well as domestic tourism. 


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