Councillor James Byrne.
Louth Council Council Chief executive Joan Martin told yesterday’s Council meeting that the moratorium on commercial rates to help businesses cope with the downturn in business due to the Covid-19 crisis would present the already cash strapped Council with significant cash flow problems.
In a statement issued subsequent to the meeting, Councillor James Byrne (FF) said that the issue needs to be clarified without delay.
“At present rates have been suspended for at least two months with no estimate on the financial support for Councils disclosed to date to fund the shortfall in revenue as Louth County Council deals with the situation on a case-by-case basis” Cllr. Byrne said.
“This could be administratively difficult given the volumes of businesses likely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis” he added.
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“I believe it is incumbent on the Government to address the situation more decisively and immediately to support Local Government. Greater clarity and certainty is needed right now.”
Councillor Byrne called for a moratorium on rates for at least a year, possibly longer, as the fallout from this crisis could extend well into 2021 even if the health experts can get a grip on the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming months ahead.
“It will be a long road to recovery for many SMEs” he predicted.
“In addition, any business that has paid already and has suffered from recent closure or slowdown in business should be entitled to a rebate of rates already paid this year to help with cash flow” he stated.
“Approximately €1.5bn is collected annually from Commercial rates by Councils. The expected shortfall in the coming months must be adequately provided for in the overall suite of measures the Government introduces to combat the economic shock from this global health crisis.”
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