Donegal TD Pearse Doherty has warned that thousands of jobs will be permanently lost if small and medium businesses are not given further liquidity supports during Covid-19.
The Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson said that low allocations of the current loan schemes show that they are ‘insufficient’ for SMEs.
A lack of support for the sector will see “businesses fail and jobs permanently lost,” Deputy Doherty said.
Despite over 200,000 SMEs employing over 75,000 workers in affected sectors, Deputy Doherty states that 209 COVID-19 loans have been approved through Microfinance Ireland or the COVID-19 Working Capital Loan Scheme.
“Our SMEs, particularly in hospitality, tourism and retail, are under threat; and with them thousands of jobs,” Teachta Doherty said.
“SMEs employ over 1 million people in the State, with the Central Bank estimating that nearly 80 percent have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Without support, many of them will not survive, with catastrophic implications for employment.
“The Central Bank projects that our SMEs will require at least €2.4 billion in the next three months. At present, Government supports fall far short of this requirement, with limited take-up in the schemes currently in place.”
Doherty also said that supports are “too difficult to access for SMEs”.
He said: “The Department of Finance in the North has provided grants ranging from £10,000 to £25,000 to more than 17,000 SMEs since the 26th March. Government should now consider immediate liquidity supports to our SMEs in the form of targeted grants.
“In addition to this, it is clear that existing schemes are not working for SMEs, with low levels of take-up and applications.
“Both the Credit Guarantee and Working Capital Loan Schemes should be reformed for SMEs with zero-interest applied to loans and, where necessary, 100 percent State-guarantees.
“Unless supports for SMEs are increased and improved, what began as business interruption will end in business failure and permanent job loss.”