Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Maurice Quinlivan TD, has said the government must do more to help businesses prepare for the consequences of Brexit.
Questioning the Minister for Business in the Dáil this afternoon Deputy Quinlivan highlighted the poor uptake of Brexit Business supports to date, with just 9% of the €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme having been drawn down so far.
The Limerick City TD also urged Minister Humphreys to do more to diversify our export markets to avoid an over-reliance on any single country.
Deputy Quinlivan said;
“I am very concerned to hear that the poor uptake of the government’s Brexit business supports is continuing.
“All the government’s supports have suffered from a low uptake from the very beginning, and I have encouraged the Minister to examine whether red tape or overly strict criteria is preventing SMEs accessing the grants available.
“Minister Humphreys confirmed in the Dáil this afternoon that just 9% of the total €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme, €27.7 million, has been sanctioned at bank level so far.
“That is an abysmal performance of this scheme, and the Minister could give no reason for the low uptake.
“It seems the €300 million figure was plucked from thin air simply because it sounded good, with no estimation of need made, or uptake targets set.
“In addition, only 149 Market Discovery Fund grants have been allocated to date. That is simply not good enough.
“These grants aim to assist businesses in diversifying their exports markets, which that is vitally important, and something that needs to be prioritised.
“According to Enterprise Ireland’s Export Performance in Global Markets report, just 1% of our exports went to the entire continent of South America in 2017.
“In addition, just 9% of exports went to the continent of Africa, to the Middle East, and India combined.
“It is imperative we diversify our export destinations, to avoid a repeat of an over-reliance on any single market.
“On paper these Brexit business supports look great, but the reality is that most businesses are not taking them up.
“The Minister needs to seriously look at the performance of these grants and introduce changes to ensure SMEs can actually access and benefit from them.”