FIANNA Fáil Limerick TD, Deputy Niall Collins has said more urgent action is needed from Government to protect struggling Workers, Families and SMEs and to protect market confidence as we descend into unprecedented economic shock due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Due to the spread of coronavirus, Deputy Collins said “hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost” over the past number of days, as well as businesses being scaled back or “closed entirely and consumers are staying at home, bracing themselves for a potential cut in their household income”.
He said, “While the specific business supports already announced will provide some assistance, there is still a wide gap in the level of aid intensity and actions being taken in comparison to other European countries.”
The Limerick County representative believes there is “no doubt” that the scale of Ireland’s response “has been below the average of other developed countries”.
“Other small open economies such as Switzerland and New Zealand have undertaken fiscal packages of 1.6 per cent and 4 per cent of GDP respectively while Irelands measures stand at just 0.7 per cent of our GDP,” he said.
“Fianna Fáil believes the Government’s package should support workers to remain in employment during the Covid-19 pandemic by rapidly increasing the subvention of wages to avoid a shock across the economy,” said Deputy Collins, “We need to start paying workers directly up to 80 per cent of their salary similar to elsewhere.”
Looking to countries such as Denmark and Portugal, the Fianna Fáil TD noted “economic experts believe it is crucial to keep employees connected to their jobs” which he says will provide “assurances to households that their income will not drop dramatically”.
“However, while many countries are paying almost 80 per cent of a person’s salary in an attempt to stem the shock, our government only yesterday conceded to allow businesses to top-up the basic social welfare payment for their employees,” he said, adding, “This demonstrates that they don’t understand the need to retain the employer/employee relationship and that a ‘business as usual’ approach is what is required.
“Other areas we believe the Government should be focusing on include:
- Ensuring a waiver of 2020 commercial rates for all business effected by COVID-19.
- Engaging with insurance providers to determine what damages they could cover – considering the unprecedented challenge facing SMEs.”
The Limerick County TD believes Government “needs to be prepared to inject a major fiscal stimulus when the crisis subsides” in a bid to restore confidence to business and housholds.
He said, “This means ramping up public investment programmes and spending in areas such as housing and infrastructure”.
“There are major economic decisions to be made in the coming days and weeks that will either safeguard us through this period or plunge us into a recession – the sooner a stable Government is put in place the better to ensure what is decided is done with a full mandate and with the Dáils full support,” concluded Deputy Collins.