Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements
I welcome the announcement of the Covid business aid scheme. The €60 million funding will greatly help those businesses that have fallen outside the scope of CRSS requirements. The scheme will be a great help to businesses in the hospitality sector if they do not qualify for CRSS, if they have rateable premises and their turnover is significantly impacted. The Fáilte Ireland business continuity scheme, which was launched recently, is also a positive move protecting those businesses that have fallen outside the remit of CRSS. This is critical if we are to have a balanced approach during the return of normality for businesses and to ensure some sectors are not left behind.
I want to raise the issue of the credit guarantee scheme. I welcome the news that several credit unions have signed up to distribute the credit from the scheme. We need to have as many channels as possible to ensure all businesses that require credit can access it. However, if we are serious about building back better, we need to have the foresight to have the necessary tools in place to be a leader and market creator from a Government perspective. The role of the Government should be on market correction policies and more focus should be on shaping the future in a stakeholder-driven approach with businesses and wider society. Giving more power to the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, SBCI, would also be a great first step. The SBCI should have the ability to administer its own loans directly to businesses instead of the current system that sees either the companies assessed by the SBCI and processed by the commercial banks or directly assessed by the commercial banks. As we can see from the KfW scheme in Germany, on which the SBCI is modelled, if we want our strategic investments to be successful for the Government to play a dynamic role in the development of an economy, we need to give the SBCI the direct tools to do this. I would like to hear from the Tánaiste his thoughts on this suggestion.
In recent times, we have seen significant discussion on the arrival of Amazon with regard to its logistics operations being based in Ireland instead of the UK for the first time. One suggestion I have is that the Department looks into ways in which local entrepreneurs could exploit this opportunity. It would be a shame if we did not do so. It might help to mitigate the negative impacts of online shopping it may have.