Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements
Carol Nolan (Laois-Offally, Independent)
I have a number of questions. There are terrible delays for businesses in respect of imports. I have been contacted by a number of businesses based in the midlands and have been told that there are terrible delays with customs. A customs agent has to be engaged for each transaction, which costs €80. Prior to that, an invoice has to be obtained in the UK and that can be delayed by up to four days. There is also pettiness with customs officers here who, I have heard, have taken sandwiches from drivers coming in from the UK. This sort of pettiness and bureaucracy has to be dealt with.
We need to protect every job we can in this State, in particular given Brexit and the pandemic. This is particularly important in the midlands which is undergoing a very unfair transition, as I have said a number of times in the House. I ask the Minister to please sort out the imports and customs issues. It appears that the problems lie mostly on our side.
My next issue is Ulster Bank. Will the Minister give certainty and clarity to people? Some 20,000 farmers have loans with Ulster Bank, and many customers have mortgages. They need certainty that the loan books will not be passed to a faceless entity, namely, a vulture fund. We need to ensure the loan books are passed to another pillar bank. In terms of putting people here at ease, the Minister needs to clarify that. I would be very grateful for a written reply so I can get back to my constituents.
My next issue concerns businesses in my constituency, Laois-Offaly. A tree surgeon received a quote from an insurance company of roughly €2,700 over eight years. He has now been told that because of Brexit the insurance cost is between €10,000 and €15,000, enough to put him out of business. I ask for that case to be looked into.