Following the most recent update to Ireland’s approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy said,
“It is positive to see that the Government has moved beyond the initial response phase by setting out steps for recovery, and every business will now begin to assess and gauge their own response to this in parallel with further updates expected over the weekend. Cork Chamber will continue to engage with Government to further craft and inform the approach to recovery, noting that while today’s announcement is welcome, further cashflow measures are required in the short term.
It is also essential that we also evolve discussion about our long-term resilience and seek out new sustainable ways to strive ahead and differentiate our economy and society internationally.”
Speaking this evening, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,
“The announcement from the Taoiseach this evening will be welcomed and taken as a glimmer of light and hope at the end of the tunnel.
However, in respect of news that we are to expect further announcements tomorrow of additional business supports, Chambers Ireland reiterates its call for liquidity funds and grant aid for business to cover overheads such as rent, utilities and working capital. We also call on Government to provide clarity on supports for business and local government regarding commercial rates.
The deferral announced in March was found to be insufficient by three-quarters of business who responded to our April survey. If action on commercial rates is to have any meaningful impact, they will need to be waived for impacted businesses for at least 6 months, if not a full year. Government must also ensure that Local Authorities can continue to serve communities, and so any shortfall in funding must be replaced with central Government funds.”
Cork Chamber commented earlier today on the steps required in the short, medium and long term to ensure a sustainable recovery for business.
“While it is important to recognise that the current Government measures are very helpful and appreciated by the business community, it is clear that further steps must be taken to minimise economic damage along with greater clarity on how the economic recovery plan aligns with public health requirements. Our most recent data, finalised today shows that in Cork today only 18% of businesses are fully open. 23% of businesses have scaled down, 28% have fully shut down, and 31% have closed their front office and are working from home.” “It is essential that we now agree short, medium and long term steps to secure our economic, societal and political stability. With business in Cork projecting a 43% revenue drop in 2020 we have some sense of what the impact looks like and we must take steps appropriately.”
“We have an opportunity, through strong ambition equivalent to a contemporary Marshall Plan to lay the foundations for a stable and better economy and society and to leave a legacy of resilience and sustainability for generations to come.”
In the short term we have an acute need for Deeper cashflow interventions with a focus on
Deferring Government-related charges such as VAT & PRSI for at least 6 months, while commercial rates need to be waived for 6 months and longer where businesses remain closed, with local authorities reimbursed in full to facilitate continuity of services.
Deferring Financial Institution charges such as mortgage and loan repayments for a minimum of 6 months, with flexible repayment arrangements.
Deferring Utility charges such as water, broadband, electricity etc for 6 months.
Deferring Rent payments for a minimum of 6 months.
The provision of additional sector specific supports across these areas for tourism, hospitality and retail.
Acting on these measures will provide a lifeline to businesses and save jobs.”
“In the short to medium term, construction must be at the forefront of infrastructure-led stimulus, with housing and sustainable mobility as a focus. The Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy, and significant NDP projects such as roads, schools, hospitals and the Cork Event Centre are prime opportunities.
Absolute commitment to the urban and rural regeneration funds is essential. Greenways, walkways, countryside access, parks, woodlands, planting and amenities must be improved and accelerated. They are key to recovery, mental health and long-term quality of life. Quality, people-focused amenity must always be within a reasonable radius of home. There is no reason why Cork can’t be Europe’s green capital.”
Speaking further Mr Healy said, “The medium to long term success of Cork must always be clearly in sight. We must support the EU Green Deal as central to the recovery of Europe. Ten EU countries have already committed to this and Ireland must join their ranks. Government must leverage all appropriate models of funding for infrastructural delivery as an economic stimulus. A strong indigenous tourism campaign and investment in quality of life infrastructure that enhances the offer is a natural parallel.
We must support the robust continuation of the Renewable Energy Subsidy Scheme to ensure business is powered by green energy, which is becoming an important factor in investment decisions.
Finally a phased roll back of supports at point of recovery is essential. A steady scaling down rather than an abrupt stop point is the only way to get our economy back in gear.”