‘Fear businesses won’t reopen’ says Cashel Chamber president





‘Fear businesses won’t reopen’ says Cashel Chamber president

President of Cashel Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Martin Lynch, has called for a ‘clear and precise’ commitment of support from Government for businesses struggling with the financial impact of Covid-19.

Stating that he is aware of the serious concerns of local businesses, most of which are currently closed, there is now a real fear locally that many businesses, particularly those in the tourism and hospitality sectors, will never re-open their doors once the full financial impact of Covid-19 is quantified.

‘Cashel, like many local communities, relies on local businesses for employment and community supports. Currently there is a possibility that many of these businesses may not reopen until the last quarter of 2020 or will not re-open until a vaccine has been found, or in a number of cases, may not re-open at all’, says Mr. Lynch.

Cashel is a popular tourist town and the hospitality sector has been one of the town’s key drivers of job growth over the last decade. Currently in Cashel the hotel, B&B providers, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries and hair salons represent approximately 50% of total employment. This sector has been decimated just as its busiest season was about to get underway.

Stating that he fully appreciates the fact that the country is experiencing its greatest health crisis in living memory, he adds that businesses within the hospitality industry have been closed since early March and are likely to be the last sector to fully reopen. Mitigating the financial impact of Covid-19 for the hospitality industry and for all our members must go hand in hand with their re-opening in the coming weeks and months.

It is essential that local enterprise, remains to the fore of the Governments post - Covid-19 economic agenda and I am calling on the Government to take immediate action on the following issues now to protect the economy and long-term viability of our members and their businesses’:

- When businesses are allowed to re-open, they will need clear and specific HSE guidelines on the use of PPE for the safety of their staff and customers. Financial supports need to be made available towards the cost of personal protective equipment so businesses can comply with HSE guidelines.

- A full and comprehensive review of Local Authority Rates and Water Charges, with deferrals or reduction of liabilities for a minimum of 12 months.

- Additional support from our financial institutions to assist businesses facing short-term and long-term cash-flow problems, while additional provision must be provided to allow liquidity to businesses affected by Covid-19 at low interest rates.

- VAT rates for the hospitality industry must to be restored to 9% on a permanent basis.

- The Minister for Finance needs to issue instruction to Revenue and suspend the application of interest on late payments of VAT and PAYE (Employers) liabilities for 12 months. All debt enforcement activity by Revenue should be suspended until 2021 and the current tax clearance status of businesses effected by Covid-19 needs to remain in place for the remainder of 2020 and into the first quarter of 2021.

- Review and reduction of the current Employer’s PRSI rates for a minimum of 12 months.

- Government Grants for business impacted by Covid-19 closures need to be simplified and streamlined to help businesses receive them in a timely manner which will allow for their continued survive and assist with the reopening of same.

- The introduction of statutory deferment of commercial rents for businesses forced to close as a result of Government-imposed restrictions due to Covid-19.

- While many businesses have Business Interruption Insurance, the insurance industry have taken a stance that most policies do not cover a global pandemic such as Covid-19. Currently insurance providers are refusing to respond to claims for loss of income. The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe urgently needs to intervene and issue instruction to Insurance providers on Business Interruption Insurance.