Athlone Chamber of Commerce is calling on the Government to extend the commercial rates waiver by a further six months to March of next year as part of the Budget 2021 announcements this month.
The original three months rates waiver was extended to the end of September as part of the Government’s July stimulus package announcement.
In a statement released this week, Alan Shaw, Athlone Chamber President, called upon the Government to ease the payments burden on local businesses.
“Businesses throughout Athlone continue to change and adapt to the effects of Covid-19. The huge uncertainty has resulted in a massive upheaval to the normal way in which business is conducted. What we do know is that the six month waiver of rates to the end of September 2020, in County Westmeath has benefited over 2,000 businesses and is worth €5.5M in savings for those businesses.
“Businesses in County Roscommon have benefited with savings of €2.75M in rates costs. Extending the waiver by another six months to March 2021, will further assist businesses with cashflow by reducing outflows of almost €8.25M between the two County Council areas.
“Athlone Chamber has written to local TDs to lobby Government ahead of Budget day to ensure that an extended rates waiver is included in the budgetary announcements and that the cost is refunded to local Government by central Government.
“We are also aware that Councillors in counties Westmeath and Roscommon will soon be balancing their budgets for 2021. Commercial rates account for 20 percent of the annual income of both County Councils.
“We want Councillors in both areas to freeze rates for 2021. This freezing of rates combined with a further period of rates waiver would provide businesses with the support that they badly need at this time.
“Athlone Chamber has written to local Councillors in the Athlone area requesting them to freeze commercial rates for 2021 when balancing their budgets in the coming weeks,” Mr Shaw asserted.