Offaly councillor calls on government to do more for small businesses
Offaly councillor John Foley has called on the Government to do more for small businesses amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
"As the Irish people continue to work together to ease the effects of the Covid-19, businesses and those involved in the tourist industry have had to close their doors. The lockdown measures which were introduced combined with the ban on non-essential travel are all important measures in the effort to battle the coronavirus and I want to acknowledge the wonderful work being carried out by our staff in the hospitals, the other frontline workers and the many people who have volunteered to ensure the elderly who are cocooning have the necessary food and medication they need.
"The Irish people have rallied together in what is the most difficult situation this generation has had to encounter. However, I do believe there will be serious financial issues in Ireland for some time to come, while the Government has introduced a number of measures to assist those who have lost their jobs and those who are in business, I would like to see the Government going a step further in relation to small and medium size businesses and those involved in the tourist industry.
"The issue of rates is one I have highlighted on many occasions before the coronavirus came to Ireland. I have always felt that the level of rates for small and medium size businesses is too high but far too often my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. I am now calling on the Government to abolish rates for a period of three months to give these businesses a chance to recover and give those that have had to close an incentive to reopen.
"Far too often many public representatives forget that these small and medium size businesses and enterprises are the back bone of many communities both urban and rural and when the total number of people employed in them is added up it amounts to many thousands of people.
"We as a country cannot afford to sit back and see many of these businesses feel that they have no other option but to keep their doors closed and leave those they have employed out of work.
"I will be submitting a motion to the next meeting of Offaly County Council and I will be calling on my colleagues to abolish the payment of rates for a three month period for these businesses and I will be seeking this same request is submitted to all the other county councils for support.
"After the Celtic Tiger crash a reduction in the VAT charged in the tourist industry was introduced to give that vital part of our economy a boost. The records show that the reduction in VAT helped the tourist industry at a time when it was on its knees and I believe such a move now could have the same result in increasing the number of visitors to the country, encouraging many hotels etc. that have closed to reopen and re-employ the staff they had to let go.
"The reduction in the rate of VAT for the tourist industry as well as the abolition of the payment of rates by small and medium-size businesses will have a major impact in boosting our economy which has taken a hard hit and will take some time to recover.
"We as a nation have shown that by working together we can bring this virus under control. We came back strong after the economic crash and by introducing these small measures for the businesses and tourist industry we can come back even stronger again.
"I am very confident that these two proposals will receive the full backing of the business community and gain the full support of not only my fellow members of Offaly County Council but also the members of all county councils in the country."