Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Taoiseach): Statements
Leo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
The package we have put in place for SMEs is substantial. It involves a three-month rates waiver and a rates rebate of up to €10,000 to make any adaptations a business may need in order to buy new stock for reopening or to do whatever else it needs. Under the wage subsidy scheme, the Government will pay the bulk of staff wages for a period. There are also loan guarantees and credit lines. It is substantial when one puts it all together, but that is not to say that it could not be added to. We are open to suggestions in that regard.
To answer the Deputy's question, I am a big fan of competitive funds. They are a good idea. We established four such funds under Project Ireland 2040, including the disruptive technologies innovation fund, which has been very popular, and the climate action fund. We may consider another competitive fund targeted at SMEs. The advantages of competitive funds such as these are that they are budget-capped such that one knows how much they will cost, the process is efficient because the best projects are the ones that win, and they drive innovation and cause people to think differently. The Deputy has made a very good suggestion.