Firms pay 'unbearable' rates
Commercial rates are strangling companies across the country to near breaking point, it was claimed.
The Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) demanded a total reform of local authority charges to reduce the overwhelming burden of rates on the business sector.
It said a 47pc increase over the last 10 years was unacceptable and unsustainable.
Mark Fielding, ISME chief executive, said: "Business is the only sector of society that is compelled to pay commercial rates, essentially a local business tax, which penalises enterprise and suppresses local job creation.
"Commercial rates are a significant burden on small enterprises, with business contributing over a quarter (27pc) of the total revenue stream to the local authorities."
Firms are also forking out for water, waste disposal, planning charges and parking.
Mr Fielding said rates have risen at over twice the rate of inflation because of Government's failure to properly fund local government.
He maintained businesses that are on their knees and barely surviving are still expected to pay 'Celtic Tiger' commercial rates.
ISME wants an assessment of rates on agricultural businesses, government, local authority, church buildings and unregistered B&B's so they share the burden of local authority funding.
It also called on local authorities to reduce their revenue needs through realistic budgeting and more efficiency, and demanded a 20pc cuts on all charges for the coming year.
Mr Fielding added: "It is unbearable, unsustainable and unacceptable, particularly as these companies are forced to significantly reduce their cost base and drive for continuous increased efficiencies just to survive."