The Irish SME Association has criticised the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and accused it of being “fixated” on multinationals.

The Irish SME Association has criticised the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and accused it of being “fixated” on multinationals.
ISME says the reopening has been “ponderously slow” and any further delays would be disastrous.
In his opening statement for today’s sitting of the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19, ISME CEO Neil McDonnell says that missteps with the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Wage Subsidy Scheme could have been avoided if there was a formal liaison with small business.
The association says SMEs continue to be a blind spot and the perception at the upper levels is that big corporations pay their taxes while small business owners fiddle their expenses.
The committee is holding three sessions today discussing the reopening of the economy when it will hear from business representative groups and health experts.
ISME also says the implications of any additional periods of economic shutdown would be grave and many SMEs would not survive such a move.
“The current reopening road map is already ponderously slow for business and the economy. Any additional period of economic shutdown would be disastrous.”
The association says additional supports should remain in place until work levels return to 80% or more of pre-Covid-19 levels and that ending them before then would trigger a wave of redundancies.
However, it is critical of the restructured Pandemic Unemployment Payment saying that it is “highly problematic” that the payment is not related to pre-Covid-19 income.
Read more:Latest coronavirus storiesLatest politics stories
It says the new two-band structure is not justified and should be amended so that a recipient should only be able to claim a maximum of their previous weekly earnings and not the full payment.
The other witnesses at today’s committee are Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian De Gascun, President of NUI Maynooth Professor Philip Nolan along with Ibec’s Chief Executive Danny McCoy.
Ibec has called for removal of the quarantine restrictions, reduction of the two-metre rule to one metre and an extensive track and trace programme.
Enterprise Ireland Chief Executive Officer Julie Sinnamon and senior officials from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will also appear.