The Minister for Finance has warned that the Revenue Commissioners will catch any business that tries to take advantage of the new COVID-19 wage subsidy scheme.
The scheme was announced as part of a €3.7bn support package the help workers through the next few weeks of the outbreak.
It will see the Government funding up to 70% of salaries – up to a maximum of €410 per week.
To qualify for the scheme, businesses must declare to Revenue that they have experienced a minimum decline in turnover of 25% and are no longer able to meet their wage bill.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said authorities will rely on businesses to be honest about their cash-flow and ability to pay wages in the first few weeks of the scheme.
“Later on in the year, when we have battled our way through this disease, we will take a step back and we will look at the information that employers have provided to us in good faith,” he said.
“We will look at that information then and I will simply say that if anybody tries to take advantage of this scheme, the Revenue Commissioners will detect it.
“But I am confident that all good employers won’t, because we understand the pressure they are under.”
The minister also said he believes the economy is doing better than it might seem, despite the closure of so many workplaces as the virus spreads.
“My judgement at the moment would be that far more of the economy is still working at normal capacity and doing OK versus what we might feel at the moment,” he said.
“The reason for that is that so many employers have made really big investments in digital technology over recent years to facilitate their employees working from home and working differently.
“Particularly in the very large companies that are located here in Ireland, our understanding is that there is much going on there, but just in a very different way to how it would have been just a few weeks ago.”
Minister Donohoe was speaking as flights continue to arrive into Ireland from the UK and a range of other European countries that are dealing with larger outbreaks than our own.
He refused to rule out shutting down flights in the coming days – but warned that blocking access too early would leave Irish people stranded abroad.
“Let’s see where we stand with those flights and that access in the coming days, because a huge amount is changing in relation to that,” he said.
“If we are trying to get Irish citizens back home; if we are trying to allow really basic essential functions within our economy to continue to operate, there are some very, very basic and important things we have to have in place from an access point of view.
“If we do get to a place – and I am not ruling this out – where further reductions in access have to take place here in Ireland, we have to do that in planned way.”
He said the Department of Foreign Affairs has provided clear guidance on “what you need to do if you have come back from a variety of countries.”
“It is also the case that as we respond back to this disease the kind of access you are referring to will be more calibrated and reduced,” he said.
You can listen back to the full interview here: