On 2 May, I announced a number of additional measures to aid the economy as the COVID -19 restrictions start to be lifted. These are part of an economic plan worth up to €6.5 billion to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 and minimise the extent of the economic damage caused by the pandemic. Those measures are:
- A €10,000 Restart Grant for micro and small businesses based on a rates/waiver rebate from 2019;
- A three month commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses;
- A €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms;
- A €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to support lending to SMEs for terms ranging from 3 months to 6 years, which will be below market interest rates;
- The ‘warehousing’ of tax liabilities for a period of twelve months after recommencement of trading during which time there will be no debt enforcement action taken by Revenue and no interest charge accruing in respect of the warehoused debt.
The package aims to help our businesses to restart, reconnect and rehire staff. It includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst SMEs.
It will be necessary to enact legislation to give effect to some of these supports. The COVID 19 Miscellaneous Financing Provisions Bill 2020 will introduce Amendments to three Acts in order to support the financing needs of businesses in the COVID-19 crisis. These are the Microenterprise Loan Fund Act 2012 (as amended), the European Investment Fund Act 2018 and the Credit Guarantee Act 2012 (as amended).
The draft Heads of the Bill were submitted to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel on 6 May 2020. It is expected that this legislation will be ready for publication and consideration in the Oireachtas to coincide with the creation of a new Government.