Pearse Doherty says Ireland is 'completely falling down' when it comes to supporting small and medium-sized business as they begin to reopen.
The Sinn Féin finance spokesperson also says that any moves to cut the supports for seasonal workers is the 'wrong thing to do' for the economy, amid reports that the pandemic unemployment payment could be cut for part-time workers.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Deputy Doherty said it was important to 'stabilise' the economy at the start of the pandemic - but it's not time to shift towards stimulus.
He said: “The one that that stands out to me like a sore thumb is the lack of supports that are there for SMEs.
“What we need to do is stimulate the economy to create demand, and to make sure that businesses are in a position to reopen their door once it is safe to do so - and that is where we are completely falling down.”
The Donegal TD pointed to Germany’s €130 billion stimulus package, which includes measures such as providing families with an additional €300 per child and a temporary cut to the VAT rate.
He suggested that Ireland should now ramp up either direct grant supports or state-backed guaranteed loans for businesses.
He said companies are only drawing down a ‘pittance’ in state-backed loans, and claimed that the loans are designed in a ‘terrible, terrible way’.
Deputy Doherty said: “I think it would be naive in the extreme to suggest that every single business that was operating and viable before the pandemic will be viable afterwards… but I think it’s also acceptable to say a large, large proportion of them will be.
“In any type of scheme like this, of course you will be making money available to businesses that maybe won’t make it through, but we have to make sure that as many businesses can come through."
Pandemic unemployment payment
Deputy Doherty also responded to today's report in the Irish Independent that the pandemic unemployment payment could be cut by 40% (from €350 to €203 per week) for part-time workers.
He observed: “They’re talking about part-time workers, but what does that actually mean? Does that mean everybody who doesn’t work 40 hours is going to see their income drop?"
He said many seasonal workers - including students - would be working full-time during the summer, even if they were working part-time back in March.
Deputy Doherty said that cutting payments for everyone would be the wrong thing to do, although acknowledged there is a need to deal with "anomalies".
However, the Sinn Féin TD said that those who have been most severely affected by the pandemic are people on low-pay.
He said: “People like my mother who worked the couple of shifts she could get, cleaning the café and all the rest during the winter period… worked every hour she got when the hotels opened… these are the types of people that Regina Doherty, Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe are sitting around saying ‘we should cut their supports’.
“Not only is it unfair to those seasonal workers, but it’s actually the wrong thing to do for the economy.
"When a conservative government like Germany is going to give €300 to every single child in the state… our Government is talking about taking away money from families, and therefore taking money away from the domestic economy and businesses."