Cashel Chamber of Commerce has called on the successful election candidates in the General Election to increase support for local enterprises and business. The Chamber has identified keys areas which need increased support and attention by the new Government and elected public representatives.
Commercial Rents and Rates are one of the biggest obstacles faced by local businesses in Cashel, as well as other areas, and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency sooner rather than later. The Chamber welcomes the new proposed legislative changes identified in the major political party’s manifestos for tenants to have rents reviewed irrespective of upward only clauses in 2011 but this needs to be expanded and applied to Local Authority Rates and Charges. Freezing commercial rates over the past 2 years in Cashel has fallen well short of what is required to sustain local business and stimulate new business investment in the town. The philosophy of local authorities maintaining rates and charges from the height of the economic boom when businesses are struggling with between 30-40% downturn in sales activities and tourism down to 1998 levels is not sensible. The Local Authority needs to understand the principle of diminishing returns and they are creating an environment where businesses may and will fail under the weight of charges and eliminate income to the local authority.
Commercial rates contribute to 23% of the overall income for the town council and these businesses need to be protected and given the best possible opportunity to survive to continue to contribute to maintaining essential town services.
Reform of the Political system and public services is critical to the recovery of the national economy and therefore the local economy. All the major parties have committed to reducing the number of political representatives and public service numbers. Number of local county and town councillors is not sustainable anymore and needs to be slimmed down and savings in costs need to be reinvested in existing local enterprises, job recreation and development of support services for emerging enterprises. Duplication of services between town and county councils needs to be eliminated to affect better efficiencies and savings in local authority charges and redistribution of funds for economic development and promotion. The Brosnan Report “Renewing Local Government in Limerick” has identified a template of how this can be achieved and implemented. In the Draft Annual Cashel Town budget there is no allowances assigned for the Economic Development and Promotion of Cashel Town which is curious considering that it has never been more needed.
Foreign Direct Investment needs to be intensified in Cashel and the I.D.A. Spatial Strategy Programme has not had the required effect. Historically Cashel has not attracted big business like it’s close neighbour Clonmel and needs urgent attention.
The Cashel Chamber President Mike Ryan has had conversations with the I.D.A. and there needs to be a review on the where the preferred locations for investment have been identified. Cashel is on the peripheral of perceived ideal locations for foreign direct investment because of a range of reasons but in the opinion of the Cashel Chamber of Commerce the town and area is ideally positioned to attract big investment and jobs and our new elected officials need to push our case with the I.D.A. and Enterprise Ireland to promote Cashel more effectively and avoid the situation Tipperary Town finds itself in with the closure of PALL.
The proposed VAT increases in the higher rate bracket of 21% to 22% and subsequent rise to 23% needs to be revisited and reversed. All political parties have identified this rise in their manifestos and at a time when consumer confidence is low this increase is another obstacle small businesses will be asked to overcome. Consumers need to be encouraged to spend to stimulate the economy especially at local level and this increase will not facilitate this and will have a detrimental effect on the exchequer returns as companies will be forced to deregister for VAT to remain competitive as unfortunately consumers will have little choice to revert to the ‘Black Market’. The projected increase in income by raising this VAT rate will be minimal compared to the detrimental effect it will have on businesses as proven by the previous increase to 21.5%.
“The plight of local businesses is evident to everyone all over the country and has been commented on consistently in the media and by all political parties, so now with the General Election, the Cashel Chamber will be calling on all election candidates make a commitment to commercial rate reductions and local authority reform” commented the Cashel Chamber President, Mike Ryan. “Businesses need increased support from the new Government with more emphasis on reduced costs and bureaucracy with stimulus packages for new businesses and job creation within the private sector.”
The Cashel Chamber was encouraged following a very productive meeting with South Tipperary Candidate, Deputy Tom Hayes TD, on Saturday evening in Cashel. All areas of concerns were discussed in a frank and open manner between Deputy Hayes and the Cashel Chamber representatives, Mike Ryan (President), John Lacy (Treasurer) and committee members Raymie Davern and Johanna Lacy.
The Cashel Chamber wishes all candidates the best in the election but would like to remind the successful candidates that being elected means they have only made the team and the match still has to be played, and results are needed for the sake of local businesses and the local economy.