Costs for small businesses are ‘mounting all the time’ – Harkin

Small businesses which constitute over 90% of Irish companies deserve immediate support by way of grants and loans to get them back into business as quickly as possible.

This is according to independent TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marian Harkin. She was speaking in the Dáil with regard to the proposed Microfinance Loan Fund Bill.

Harkin said that she had repeatedly told the government that many businesses would not be able to re-open, unless they were supported by an effective package of grants and low interest loans.

She referred to her involvement in the creation of the EU microfinance legislation 10 years previously, which was a clear message that the EU was determined to support small business.

In Ireland, small businesses are critical to the country’s economy, but the proposed rate of loan interest, at up to 5%, compared very badly with the microfinance loan rate of 2% charged in the Netherlands.

This rate difference meant that on a loan of €20,000 an Irish small to midsize enterprise would pay €1,500 more in interest than a borrower in the Netherlands, she pointed out.

‘Costs are mounting all the time’

This significant difference was the reason why she had supported a Sinn Féin amendment to the Microfinance Bill which called for a 2% interest rate on loans and a 12-month moratorium on interest, she said.

They know that when they [small businesses] start trading it will take a significant period of time to get back to where they were previously. Their costs are mounting all the time, including utility bills, insurance and so on.

“They are borrowing to cover that and they know their businesses will not start back where they left off. A little bit of hope will go a long way for a lot of people out there who want to start working again and get their companies up and running,” she concluded.