Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
638. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if legislation prepared by her Department will be required to implement the new measures announced recently to help businesses recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic; the progress made to date in drafting this legislation; when it is hoped to publish same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6806/20]
Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys T.D.
I recognise that the current healthcare crisis has put enormous pressure on companies of all sizes and across all sectors in our economy, and the Government has put in place a number of schemes to support enterprises and their employees in responding to the crisis.
To further enhance the supports already available to enterprise, the Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe TD, and I announced a suite of measures to support businesses that are negatively impacted by Covid-19 which had been agreed by Government at its meeting on Saturday 2 May 2020.
Within that package, the specific measure which falls within the remit of my Department is the €2 billion Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme.
The implementation of this new Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme requires amendments to the Credit Guarantee Act 2012 (as amended). Since the Government approved the scheme, officials in my Department have been working urgently alongside the Office of Parliamentary Counsel on the priority drafting of the Covid 19 Miscellaneous Financing Provisions Bill 2020.
This amending legislation will also include amendments to the Microenterprise Loan Fund Act 2012 to facilitate Microfinance Ireland (MFI) to be able to borrow moneys from bodies other than its parent body, the Social Finance Foundation. This is intended to allow MFI to have access to greater sources of funding, to enhance its ability to provide more microenterprise loans to those qualifying enterprises in need of additional finance options.
There is also an amendment to the European Investment Fund Act 2018 to be included within this Bill, which will allow it to take greater advantage of additional funding streams available from the European Investment Bank and European Investment Fund to facilitate access to finance for qualifying enterprises. These measures are also intended to facilitate increasing the range and capacity of sources of additional finance for enterprises in Ireland, allowing them to identify what best suits their own individual needs.
My Department and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel intend to publish the Bill before the end of May. My priority is to ensure that this legislation can be progressed through the Oireachtas as a matter of urgency following the formation of a new Government. I am very aware of the pressure for enterprise to access these supports in order to be able to resume economic activity and hope that all Parliamentarians will facilitate its urgent commencement.
In order to support that urgency, and in tandem with the preparation of the enabling legislation, officials in my Department, along with officials from the Department of Finance and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, have also been working on progressing the operational issues to establish the Covid 19 Credit Guarantee Scheme as quickly as possible, including negotiating with the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and participating financial institutions.
I would also like to remind Deputies that the existing array of supports for business from the Department, its enterprise agencies and other Departments, continue to be available for businesses at this time.