Dundalk Chamber gives broad welcome to stimulus plan

Dundalk Chamber gives broad welcome to stimulus plan

Paddy Malone Dundalk Chamber of Commerce

Dundalk Chamber of Commerce have welcomed the Government’s €3.5 Billion stimulus package, saying that it will provide “stability and confidence” for local businesses.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan announced the package recently where they detailed extensions to supports like the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) and a tapering of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

Paddy Malone, Public Relations Officer with Dundalk Chamber said that the package was broadly welcome, saying that it would help with the reopening of businesses across Dundalk.

“In broad measures, we welcome the whole thing.

“It puts stability and confidence into the economy,” said Mr Malone, adding that these were essential for businesses planning to reopen.

One criticism Malone levelled was around the tapering off of the PUP, which will be closed to new entrants from July and will begin tapering off in September, going from €350 a week to €300. The payment is expected to be abolished in February 2022.

Mr Malone said that hospitality workers may feel this change the worst, as some businesses may struggle even when they do reopen.

On supports for the hospitality industry, including the extension of the rates waiver and lower VAT rate, Malone said that it will help but was unsure for how long.

“It’s enough for the time being, but I don’t know if it’s enough full stop,” said Mr Malone.

The Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) will also see three weeks of double payments for businesses that are reopening in the weeks ahead, up to a maximum of 30,000. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar called it a “bullet payment” for the hospitality and tourism sectors.

Mr Malone said that the double payments with the CRSS will be impactful for publicans and restaurateurs in particular, who may need to get new stock as they reopen.

He referenced how breweries had taken back kegs when pubs initially were closed, but stocks of bottled beer and cider were left to sit and now have to be replaced.

“It’s to kickstart those businesses and get them going again,” said Mr Malone.

However, Mr Malone referenced tourism businesses as a particular sector that will struggle to get off the ground again once the pandemic is over.

He predicted that it would be 2022 before they begin to see a recovery.

Fine Gael Senator John McGahon has also welcomed the measures introduced by the government, saying that “we can and we will rebuild the Louth economy”.

“We will get our people back to work and safely emerge from the pandemic, and we will align our economy for the digitised and green future, by creating more productive, sustainable and importantly more secure and valued jobs”, said Senator McGahon.

Overall, Malone said that the current position for many local businesses was a good one, with many local business owners and employees having taken time to upskill or enhance their business over the past year.

“We’re in a good place, especially compared to last year,” said Malone, referencing how many businesses have now built online shop fronts or have pivoted to respond to the impact of the pandemic.

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