Laois Offaly TD Brian Stanley
Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley has said businesses in the Midlands need urgent help to save jobs as they try to restart after Covid-19.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Stanley called for grants and low-interest loans to be made available to small and medium-sized businesses.
Deputy Stanley said: “The past five months have been a very difficult time for our economy.
“Covid-19 has brought with it unexpected and unprecedented financial issues for many businesses that would otherwise have been sustainable.
“Many workers have been left in limbo not knowing whether they’d have a job to go back to.
“Sinn Féin, therefore, welcomes the Government's legislation to make it easier for SMEs to access affordable credit.
“In May, Sinn Féin wrote to the Minister for Finance and called for very similar legislation and we’re glad that we’ve been listened to.
“We are determined to be an effective opposition and we want to provide solutions to serious issues like this.
“In Laois and Offaly, we have seen a number of sectors struggle such as the bus and coach industry, the hospitality sector and retail.
“I’ve spoken to many of these companies during the Covid emergency and they’ve told me what they need right now are grants. A large number of these businesses are already carrying substantial loans.
“They’re already struggling, and the last thing they need is any extra debt. For that reason, Sinn Féin is calling for grants up to €25,000.
“Regarding the Credit Guarantee Scheme there should be no interest accrued for the first 12 months of a loan under the Credit scheme. There should be low rates of interest of no more than 2.5% as opposed to the current scheme of up to 5.5%. And the rates waiver should be extended until at least the 1st of January.
“It is also essential that the wage subsidy scheme continue for those businesses that meet the criteria and quality.
“All of these loans and grants should only be for decent employers. If the State is willing to give a helping hand to the private sector, then employers need to uphold their side of the bargain and keep paying their workers fair wages and decent conditions.
“Employers should not use the Covid emergency to slash the wages of workers. We know that this has been happening in some businesses and it is unacceptable.
“The Government should also implement the Sinn Féin voucher scheme that we proposed for staycations. This would get thousands of people back to work and give families a badly needed break.”