County Meath Chamber and the Network of Irish chambers calls for clarity, certainty, and flexibility from the State and its agencies. As we work with Government to address this national crisis, we urge sincere engagement by state bodies to support businesses to stay afloat during these unprecedented times.
Chamber members are active in every major town and city in the country and the businesses which form our network are deeply embedded in their communities across the island. As the number of cases of Covid-19 has increased, our network has felt its impact in the local economies they represent.
Following dialogue with members, we call on the Government to take the following steps:
- Deferral of tax payment
VAT, PAYE and PRSI payments will be due to the Exchequer the week after next. It is essential that government allows a deferral of the payments that fall during the period of curtailment. Our membership has already felt the commercial hit of Covid-19, and many will struggle to keep their doors open in the coming weeks. Ensuring cash-flow will be critical to their ability to see this crisis through.
- Prompt payment obligations
Our membership needs Government to ensure that all departments, local authorities, and public sector bodies adhere to their prompt payments obligations. If our members are to be able to maintain employment across the period of this economic shock, employers need state bodies to lead by example through ensuring that their bills are paid as early as possible.
Speaking this afternoon (13th March) Meath Chamber's Chief Executive, Paula McCaul said, "Chambers are an intrinsic part of their communities around the country and many chambers and their members already know some of those who have been affected by the virus and are deeply saddened by the loss of life which has already occurred. And like everyone, our members are concerned for their future and the prospect that is before us.
Many small business and the self-employed have had their work cancelled for the foreseeable future, while retailers around the country have been feeling tighter trading conditions since last week, and the hospitality sector in some parts of the country are facing cancellation rates upward of 60-70%. In parts of the country where Covid-19 first took hold, businesses are already operating in dire trading conditions.
We welcome the Government’s directives today and agree with the necessity of these actions to limit people’s exposure. We stand ready to support the State in whatever future actions prove to be necessary. But we ask that the State works with us by providing certainty for business through the challenges ahead.
Government needs to develop a coordinated communications plan, working with existing networks and bodies such as the Local Enterprise Offices and INTREO to ensure that businesses have clarity about the supports that are available to them and their employees.
Most importantly, State bodies need to be sincere and flexible in their engagements with businesses."