I thank Deputy Devlin for raising this important question.
As Tánaiste and Minister with responsibility for enterprise, trade and employment, I am committed to playing my part to get businesses reopened and to provide grant aid, advice and access to finance as we work to get businesses open and people back to work. A crucial part of this work will involve getting our SMEs back to capacity as soon as possible. So far the Government has introduced a €12 billion package for firms of all sizes. This includes the temporary wage subsidy scheme, the pandemic unemployment payment for the self-employed and sole traders, grants such as the restart grant, low-cost loans, the write-off of commercial rates, and deferred tax liabilities. All of this has helped to improve the financial position of SMEs.
As business reopens, what is needed now is a plan of sufficient speed and scale to repair some of the damage that has been done and to restore confidence. The July stimulus package, as promised in the programme for Government, will do just that. It will save jobs and create new ones and get our people back to work. In considering the analysis, I see five areas on which we should focus in helping our enterprises into the future: income supports for workers, direct grants for business, cheaper finance, new opportunities for future jobs, and support for the hardest-hit sectors. It is a matter of enabling our SMEs to return to capacity, where possible, and, more broadly, strengthening the resilience, productivity and innovation of SMEs. SMEs are the backbone of our economy and communities across the country and are key drivers of employment.
Separately, the programme for Government set out our ambition to honour this commitment. I intend to form an SME growth task force shortly. This group will help to bring about a national SME growth plan, which will map out an ambitious long-term strategic blueprint well beyond Covid-19. The national SME growth plan will be largely informed by the comprehensive OECD report, SME and Entrepreneurship Policy in Ireland, which was published last year. The plan will include detailed proposals to help SMEs to start up, scale up and access foreign markets. It will look at ways to make them more productive, innovative and ready to transition to the digital and green economy of the future. It will make improvements to areas such as local entrepreneurship ecosystems and local industry clusters to drive regional development. The plan will be brought before the Government for approval as part of the national economic plan in October.