17th March 2020

Chambers Ireland calls for measures to protect economy from worst impacts


Chambers Ireland Statement 

Issued: March 16, 2020

Chambers Ireland says; “flexibility, responsibility and continuity will protect the Irish economy from the worst impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Chambers Ireland together with its nationwide network of 41 chambers calls for all businesses, Government and all State bodies to be flexible and responsible to the needs of their business and economic partners, so that we may ensure business continuity through this crisis.

A strength of business people is that working together we find solutions. Part of the solution to those businesses seeing their income dry up is to assist in managing their outgoings, with cashflow being critical for all business. To this end we acknowledge those who are offering deferred payments and longer credit terms and call on those with capacity to be supportive of business in this critical time.

The Covid-19 crisis has required extraordinary responses from the State, from society and from the business community, which our network entirely supports – while knowing that further actions will need to occur in the coming days. We will continue to support the Government’s measures knowing that the impact of this disease is such that what is unthinkable in the morning can become a reality by the evening.

Working Together 

It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that each of us helps mitigate the worst of this crisis, because it is only through working together that we can beat it.

  • Those who can pay – those who have adequate cash flows – need to pay their suppliers at the earliest opportunity.
  • Those who cannot pay, will need to work with their creditors. We urge creditors to show forbearance and flexibility in this unique situation.
  • Banks have a significant role to play in mitigating the worst of this crisis. We urge all businesses to engage with their banks as soon as possible to ensure that any supports become available to them as soon as is practicable.
  • The State is the largest player in the domestic economy therefore all Government Departments, agencies, Local Authorities, State and Semi-State bodies must pay on invoices which reach them at the earliest opportunity, even more quickly than their prompt payment obligations make necessary.
  • Government must make a clear statement on the urgent necessity that all State bodies settle all outstanding bills promptly.

The flexibility that the Revenue Commissioners’ have shown on tax receipts is the model that all State bodies should follow, and we welcome their prompt response to our calls for action for those who will be suffering cash-flow problems through the coming months.

For example, where businesses are in sectors which Government directs to close entirely, these businesses should not be charged rates for the duration of these closures.

We are aware that this will create a funding issue for our Local Authorities throughout the country, therefore central Government must step in to support our Local Authorities by bridging the resulting gap in expected Rates returns.

Speaking this afternoon (16 March) Chambers Ireland’s Chief Executive, Ian Talbot, said

“The tragedy of this illness, and the resulting the loss of life deeply saddens both myself and every member of our network. Like everyone, we are deeply concerned about what lies before us in the coming weeks.

Our retail and hospitality sectors are bearing the brunt of this first wave of measures that have made up the Government response to the Corvid-19 epidemic. The closures and the drop in business have done immense damage to the sector, damage that will take considerable time to recover from.

That this crisis has occurred at this time of the year is a catastrophe for the economy, with last year’s Brexit uncertainty having already undermined tourism and other industries. Many of the great names of Irish business may never re-open their doors again without an effective State and policy response.

As the Government response to this crisis escalates, necessary public health measures will unfortunately mean that further sectors will be affected, and deeper damage will be done to our economy. We urge every economic actor to be as flexible and supportive as they can be while these unique circumstances unfold over the coming weeks.

Most importantly all State bodies need to be sincere and flexible in their engagements with businesses. Chambers Ireland is engaged at the highest levels to ensure that the real economy is supported through the crisis and our network of Chambers are on the ground throughout the country supporting business.”

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