Tax breaks needed to keep small firms afloat, says FF
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called for a series of extraordinary measures - akin to decisions taken following the economic crash - in order to keep companies afloat in light of Brexit.
Warning that Brexit has created the "single most important challenge" facing the State, Mr Martin accused the Government of failing to recognise the seriousness of the situation that has been presented.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, the leader of the opposition called for a "root and branch" review of the State's industrial policy, with a specific focus on tourism, jobs and inward investment.
And he said the Government may need to adopt the approach taken in 2010, whereby small-to-medium companies were assisted through tax reductions.
"I'm in no doubt that Brexit is the single most important challenge facing the country.
"I'm not sure that is widely appreciated. I think the Government missed the opportunity in the Budget to make that statement," Mr Martin said.
"I think we are going to have to contemplate supporting small-to-medium size companies as a result of Brexit, people whop export to Britain.
"We may need to do things that we would never have thought we would have to do, and we might need money to do them, just to keep companies afloat," he added.
The Cork South Central TD cited PRSI and VAT reductions for small companies, particularly those outside Dublin, that may need to be examined as part of the response.
He said that while the full extent of the Brexit challenges could not be weighed up until British Prime Minister Theresa May unlocked Article 50, the lack of a plan was concerning.
"We may have to underpin some of those sectors in the coming 12 months.
"If you remember the crisis in 2010, we alleviated PRSI in return for maintenance of jobs and retention of jobs in small and medium sized enterprises. We reduced VAT rates in the last government on tourism and that," Mr Martin said.
He also voiced fears that whatever deal was negotiated between the UK and Europe could result in new tariffs being placed on Ireland.
"If we end up with a deal between Europe and the UK that leads to tariffs being imposed on Irish goods and services . . . we will lose jobs and lose revenue," he said, adding that such a scenario represents a "real risk".