Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has welcomed the plan to allow SMEs that are hit by the COVID-19 crisis to defer payments of commercial rates to local authorities for a period of three months. McGuinness had called had earlier called for a commercial rates ‘holiday’ for the hospitality, tourism, retails and SME sectors for a prescribed period of time to deal with the increasing hardship that businesses find themselves in as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Tens of thousands of SMEs are already in serious trouble due to the COVD-19 outbreak, and a number of sectors will face significant cash flow problems in the time ahead, due to a reduction in trade, tourism, and more recent measures implemented by Government.
“The payment holiday of three months is to be welcomed and I commend the caretaker government for listening to the views of all parties and introducing this measure.
The deferral period is for three months, however I believe this will need to be reviewed as we get a better sense of how long this crisis will last. Many businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors will lose on out their busiest season and this will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect later in the year.
I maintain my call for other measures to support the SME sector including
– Facilitating the deferral of VAT payments for the hospitality, tourism, retail and SME sectors for a prescribed period of time, such as 3 months;
– The scrapping of charges for card transactions, including contactless and chip-and-pin transactions to include non-cash payments.
“This will be a difficult time for workers and many of our indigenous sectors, and we must work together to respond to this challenge in the interests of workers and families.”