Jack Quann
Jack Quann

13.24 2 May 2020


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Commercial rates are to be waived for three months for business impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A shortfall of €260m on local authorities is to be funded by the Government.

It is part of a new package of supports worth over €6bn agreed by Cabinet.

It includes allowing companies to get a low-interest rate loan to re-open their business.

The measures were agreed at a special Saturday Cabinet meeting, following the publication on Friday of a roadmap for re-opening business.

The Government has already brought forward a series of measures - such as the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment - but says it is now necessary to introduce a number of additional measures.

Those include a €10,000 restart grant for micro and small businesses based on a rates/waiver rebate from 2019.

A €2bn Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund will also be available within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF).

This will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms.

While a €2bn COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme will also support lending to SMEs for terms ranging from three months to six years with below market interest rates.

COVID-19 Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Business Minister Heather Humphreys speak at a briefing in Government Buildings. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

It will also see the ‘warehousing’ of tax liabilities for a period of 12 months after trading recommences.

During this time, the Government says there will be no debt enforcement action taken by Revenue, and no interest charge accruing in respect of the warehoused debt.

The Revenue Commissioners confirmed that COVID-19 related VAT and payroll tax debts - due March 1st to the date when sectoral restrictions are lifted - will be parked for a period of 12 months.

It also said no interest will accrue on the tax debts during this 12 month period.

And after that period, the related tax debts will carry a reduced interest rate of 3%  - down from 10% - until the debt is paid.

Revenue added: "The timeframe allowed to pay the ‘warehoused’ debt will be flexible and determined by the ability of the business to pay both COVID-19 related debts as well meeting its ongoing tax liabilities as they arise in the normal course".

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: "On top of the measures previously put in place by Government, this suite of measures being outlined today is designed to build confidence, further assist businesses in terms of the management of their companies, and allow them to begin looking to the future and start charting a path forward for weeks and months ahead.

"We will continue to seek the best ways of supporting our people, and wider society, and rebuilding our economy so that we can get people back to work safely.

"We will do this by being cognisant of official public health advice and doing what is in the best interests of all our people."

Business Minister Heather Humphreys said: "We now have a comprehensive suite of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst our SMEs.

“The new €250m Restart Fund in particular will be a critically important tool to support small businesses in our towns and villages to re-open their doors and get back on their feet with supports of up to €10,000 available."

And Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy added: "The commercial rates waiver is an important response from Government.

"This will provide relief to impacted businesses as well as certainty to local authorities as to their funding.

"Rates alleviation will be complemented by the establishment of a Restart Fund for micro and small businesses which would provide a further €250m to support ratepayers."

Main image: L to R, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Business Heather Humphreys at a briefing in Government Buildings. Photograph by: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

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Businesses Cabinet Meeting Commercial Rates Coronavirus Credit Guarantee Scheme Eoghan Murphy Government Heather Humphreys Paschal Donohoe Post-COVID Restart Fund Roadmap

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