WITH an increase in commercial rates predicted in the forthcoming city estimates for 2009, as exclusively reported in last week’s edition, an appeal has been made to Limerick City Council to keep any increase to a minimum.
It comes from Limerick Chamber of Commerce, which says that this is essential to protect local jobs and attract major investment into the city.
Stressing that rising business costs, especially commercial rates and a tougher economic environment are eroding the competitiveness of business and threatening local jobs, Maria Kelly, chief executive of Limerick Chamber, says that any further pressure on the business sector will drive unemployment numbers up even further.
The chamber boss says:
“Cashflows for smaller businesses are severely restricted, if not completely dried up, which makes it very difficult to trade out of this downturn. The core of the problem is the considerable decrease in recent years in exchequer funding of local authorities and this, coupled with the government’s refusal to pay local authority benchmarking awards, means that local authorities are forced to increase charges”.
Emphasising that the business sector does not object to paying its fair share, Ms Kelly contends, however, that it is the only sector shouldering the burden in addition to numerous other local authority charges.
Acknowledging City Hall management’s reduction of the commercial rate for the past three years, the Chamber CEO says:
“We can all see the benefits of that action through increased investment in the city and exciting new developments and now, more than ever, we need to see a continuation of this pro business attitude from the city council”
Last week this newspaper revealed that City Hall will increase the commercial rate by three per cent when the Estimates are struck in two weeks time.