In what can only be described as an unforeseen first year as the youngest ever elected President of Cork Business Association (CBA), Eoin O’Sullivan has touched on what the CBA hopes to see in Budget 2021.
The Sales Director of the family-run wholesale food business, M&P O’Sullivan, was no stranger to Cork business circles before being elected to his role with the CBA back in February.
Since then, Mr O’Sullivan has been a voice for CBA members who have been affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
With Budget 2021 predicted to focus further support to the economy, the CBA held a meeting with Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath on Friday afternoon to discuss concerns in relation to the upcoming Budget on behalf of its members.
Mr O’Sullivan said that matters such as the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS), the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and reduction in expenses charges such as rates and water charges were discussed.
“The information that we passed to Minister Michael McGrath was the Wage Subsidy Scheme needs to be extended, streamlined and paid weekly rather than over a six week period which is tying up cash flow for a lot of our members.
“One of the concerns was the Covid-19 Unemployment Payment needs to return to realistic figures as a lot of staff have been laid off over recent Government restrictions.
“Another thing we asked for from Minister Michael McGrath is for rates and water charges to be abolished for 2021,” he said.
Mr O’Sullivan said that the CBA would also like to see additional support for Cork Airport after the daa last week warned that the airport is “running on empty” and requires access to the Regional Airport OpEx and Capital Funding Programmes until traffic levels have recovered to pre-Covid levels.
Mr O’Sullivan said that the airport, which served 2.7 million passengers last year and expects to serve less than 650,000 travellers in 2020, is an“extremely important piece of infrastructure for both Cork city and county” which needs funding “to keep many people in jobs”.
The CBA is also “looking for capital investment in public buildings” which Mr O’Sullivan said will align with the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Plan.
“We are looking for additional residential accommodation for people living and working in the city centre which will reduce our carbon footprint as a city,” he said.
Sector-specific supports are also being sought for businesses directly affected by the various Government restrictions put in place due to the spread of Covid-19.
Mr O’Sullivan said that “a very in depth conversation” was had with businesses about the effect that Covid-19 has had on those businesses ahead of Budget 2021.
He said that the CBA is “looking forward to seeing and hearing feedback from the Budget on Tuesday”.