Chambers Ireland says three month extension not long enough and calls on Government to leave incremental half-measures in the past, and start afresh with an expansive, data-driven plan to support business through the impact of COVID-19.
Speaking yesterday evening (23rd February), Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said: “The extension of existing financial supports is good news, as it reduces some of the uncertainty for businesses. Yet, right across our Network, there is the very real concern that Government is still failing to engage with the reality of the situation facing our local economies.
Wage supports, commercial rates waivers and debt warehousing will be needed for most of 2021. While the announcements this evening are welcome, the business community fears we will be back in this position again in a few short months, seeking clarity on further extensions. The need to rebuild business confidence is now critical.
Since the start of the year, Chambers Ireland has warned that existing financial supports do not go far enough – too many businesses are left out. For many that are eligible, the existing rates of support do not go far enough, given the scale of economic shock facing the most vulnerable sectors and the length of time they have been impacted.
Debts for many businesses are mounting, and the supports available are rarely enough to offset them. When a reopening finally occurs, many businesses will see their lockdown debts threaten their long-term viability.
None of our members want to risk a Fourth Wave, combined with another lockdown. Chambers Ireland urges for a measured, conservative, data-driven approach to re-opening the economy which includes realistic supports for, and better communication with, restricted businesses.
Reducing, if not eradicating, community transmission will be essential for businesses to re-open safely. Ensuring the reopening is sustainable is another key challenge. Robust public-health measures must be in place to prevent the introduction of new strains of the virus. Without them we will undermine our progress in reducing transmission, which has come at such great sacrifice to so many, while also running the risk of undermining our own vaccine programme.
There is growing frustration throughout the business community regarding the COVID-19 communications and guidance. Trust is easily lost, and hard earned. Many business owners are losing their faith in the adequacy of the Government response, and if this happens, we are very concerned that it will erode adherence to the public health protocols.
We are now 12 months on from the first case of COVID-19 in Ireland. Chambers Ireland hopes the new Government strategy will be a fresh start, and an opportunity for us to use the lessons of the past year to suppress the virus while supporting local economies.”