Speaking this afternoon (3 June 2020), following the publication of the May Exchequer Returns, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said,
“The Exchequer Returns today are a stark reminder of the impact COVID-19 has had not only on the health of our people, but on our economy. If these businesses are to recover in the months ahead, they will need every assistance to do so. It is also vital that we restore taxation levels as rapidly as possible to ensure that we can continue to meet the Government’s increasing Current Expenditure commitments to deal with the consequences of this crisis.
The collapse in VAT and Excise receipts in the Returns demonstrate the severe difficulty that retail and hospitality businesses are facing, and will continue to face, for some time to come. While protecting public health must remain the priority, this must be paired with a strategy for how we can meaningfully support business to begin the difficult task of reopening.
To that end, it is crucial that there is greater collaboration between the economic and health advisors to Government to inform the difficult, but necessary decisions needed in the coming weeks, as we move to reopen the economy.
As we come to the end of Phase One, there must be genuine engagement from Government on the kinds of financial supports that will need to be in place. This includes not only the retention of the Wage Subsidy Scheme and an extension of the Commercial Rates waiver, but also requires creative thinking in how we fund the redesign of our town centres so that they can support businesses to trade and consumers to return.
Since the onset of this crisis, our members have been clear that the scale of the economic crisis will require an unprecedented fiscal response from Government. We cannot ignore the fact that job creators, many of whom are SMEs, are the backbone of the economy.
If these businesses fail and if jobs are permanently lost, then our recovery will take much longer, and be much more costly.
Regarding the wider needs of the economy, Government action to sustain investment through this shock will be hugely important. In line with the European Commission’s Country-Specific Recommendations for Ireland, public spending and public investment should be non-negotiable.
We cannot afford another lost decade and so, public investment must be at the centre of the next Programme for Government.”