Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.31 13 Mar 2020


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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says the Government “will find the funding to do the things that matter the most” to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

He said the country doesn’t have “infinite” resources but that he’s confident the economy will respond back to the current challenges.

Many businesses have raised concerns about the impact of COVID-19, with restaurants and the tourism sector among those voicing particular concerns.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder, Paschal Donohoe said the Government has already announced a “suite of different measures” to support business and lending.

He pointed to the moves announced by Revenue today, which will mean interest won't be applied on late VAT returns for January and February for small and medium companies experiencing temporary cash flow problems.

He acknowledged there are many sectors facing “real challenges” that will impact people’s pay and jobs.

However, Minister Donohoe also said: “As we look at where we are sector to sector, we should bear in mind that we’re also collectively moving into this economic challenge, with our economy in far better shape than it was even a few years ago.

“Sector-by-sector, we’re going to try to respond back to issues that are developing.

"The key issue that was flagged by many different parts of our economy earlier this week was where they are going to be with their tax payments that were due next week - the Revenue have now outlined a plan in relation to that.

“We will also look at how we can help parts of our economy recover - but we’ll have to do that in terms of where we stand on public health first.”

'We have the reserves'

Minister Donohoe said everyone will remember the “great difficulty and the pain" people endured following the 2008-09 financial crisis - but suggested that the country and economy found ways to “conquer challenges that then looked unmanageable”.

He observed: “In our national finances, because all we had done to get ready for Brexit, we do have the reserves to respond back to this.

“We’ve already announced measures that could be up to €3bn - and if there is a need to go beyond that we will look at how we can do it, particularly if we need to invest and spend in our health service.

“It’s not the same as saying the Government can do everything, but it is saying that the Government will find the funding to do the things that matter the most."

Elsewhere, Minister Donohoe said officials are making moves to “significantly increase” the COVID-19 testing capacity in Ireland.

He explained: “We have mobile testing units who are going around the country helping people perform their own tests within their homes.

“It is the case that some who are looking for testing that some people who are looking at testing may not get it at the same speed as others… that is all about us trying to prioritise access to these kind of testing facilities and tools so that people who need to get tested the quickest [can be].”

Main image: Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

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