THE Government needs to bring in ‘direct support’ to help businesses get through the current energy crisis Cork Chamber has said.
The business group also wants more progress on the made on the various apartment developments in the city centre and continued support for businesses in terms of retaining the current 9% VAT rate.
Cork Chamber CEO, Conor Healy toldenergy costs are a major issue for their members. “Energy costs and energy inflation is obviously a major issue. The energy crisis is placing massive demands on business now particularly smaller businesses in areas like retail and hospitality but pretty much every business is seeing those challenges.
"Large businesses and heavy industry users are seeing very significant increases in their energy bill. The government needs to bring in direct support like what was done at the time of Covid to help those businesses out. They need support,” he said.
“Housing and accommodation are another major challenge in terms of availability of accommodation for people and for businesses who are hiring,” said Mr Healy.
“At the moment it is more challenging for people to find suitable accommodation. If you look at Cork city and the city centre where there is ambition to see very significant levels of apartment development in the heart of the city and particularly in the docklands area, we have no activity at all at the moment.
The CEO said he hopes the current 9% VAT rate will be extended beyond next February to help the tourism and hospitality sector. “Supporting the tourism and hospitality sector in the VAT rate is hugely important. From a business perspective they are just coming out of Covid and have had a challenging time. They were well supported by government through that time, and it is important that level of support continues in this next challenge particularly in terms of the energy crisis.”
Mr Healy said overall it is a very ‘positive’ time for Cork thanks to investment in jobs and in terms of infrastructure. “It is a very positive time in terms of investment with lots of jobs being created and lots of investment taking place.
"We have made a good bit of progress over the last number of years in terms of commitment by government to funding. We have road projects underway, and we have improvements and investment in public transport and in terms of cycling and walking infrastructure.
“There is a major opportunity now to fast track a lot of those developments so that we have our electrification of our suburban rail systems, and we move forward with our planned light rail. We also need to continue to invest in our cycle and walking infrastructure. It doesn’t need to take out until 2030 to deliver a lot of this. We can do much more in a timelier manner,” he added.