Responding to the Budget 2014 announcement, Graham Byrne, chief commercial officer for Bibby Financial Services Europe has called it a largely good budget for the SME sector.
Speaking after the announcement yesterday, Byrne said: “On the face of it, today’s announcement is largely positive for business but only if Government delivers on the promises announced; it can be seen that certain measures such as retention of income tax, the 12.5% corporation tax rate and the 9% VAT rate will help stimulate growth. The decision to hold the 9% VAT rate for the hospitality sector is great news for the industry and will hopefully help build upon the employment gains made so far. The SME sector has greatly benefited from the VAT reduction and the decision to retain the current VAT rate will help towards building growth and make it more attractive for businesses seeking expansion.”
He added: “The Small Firms Association has noted its concerns that the bank levy announced today will be passed onto business and consumers and we would share that concern.
“Crucially, the Minister has put an emphasis on entrepreneurship and has highlighted the need for greater access to finance along with measures to ease cash flow to help fledgling businesses grow. Access to finance remains a key hurdle for many small business owners and the government is right to make it a priority. The announcement of a ‘comprehensive communications strategy’ to better inform SMEs of support available to them must be welcomed and we would urge the Minister to ensure that businesses are fully informed on all the avenues to financial support that are open to them.
“The introduction of a new ‘Start Your Own Business’ scheme is also good news as is the proposed subsidised financial training programme and here again we would urge the Minister to look beyond traditional lenders in the design of that training.
“Business owners across the board will also be relieved that duty on fuel has not been increased.
“As a company heavily invested in the exporting industry we welcome these favourable measures in particular the reduced rate on travel. For exporters the intention to work to develop trade finance initiatives with the European Investment Bank will be good news. As found in our own recent Export Research Survey, Irish businesses have long been lacking government support with regard to export with a particular lack of knowledge of opportunities open to them in terms of finance.
“The Government must make good on its promises to support Irish businesses. The Loan Guarantee Scheme and micro finance has had little impact on credit available to SMEs,” Byrne concluded.