March 2018 start date for new Brexit loan scheme

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS -

The Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, in part­ner­ship with An Tá­naiste and Min­is­ter for Busi­ness, En­ter­prise and In­no­va­tion, Frances Fitzger­ald, has se­cured bud­get fund­ing for a new Brexit loan scheme which will pro­vide af­ford­able fi­nanc­ing to Ir­ish busi­nesses that are either cur­rently im­pacted by Brexit or will be in the fu­ture.

“An al­ter­na­tive scheme for pri­mary pro­duc­ers in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor and fish­er­men is cur­rently un­der con­sid­er­a­tion by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

Who will de­liver the Brexit loan scheme?

>> The new scheme will be de­liv­ered by the Strate­gic Bank­ing Cor­po­ra­tion of Ire­land (SBCI), through com­mer­cial lenders, to get much needed work­ing cap­i­tal into Ir­ish busi­nesses.

How big is the scheme?

>> The new Brexit loan scheme aims to make up to €300m avail­able to busi­nesses with up to 499 em­ploy­ees at a pro­posed in­ter­est rate of 4%.

Who can ap­ply?

>> The scheme is open both to state agency clients and those busi­nesses that do not have any re­la­tion­ship with state agen­cies.

How does it com­pare with nor­mal loans?

>> The fi­nance will be eas­ier to ac­cess, more com­pet­i­tively priced, and at more favourable terms than cur­rent of­fer­ings. Why is the scheme of in­ter­est to the agri-food in­dus­try?

>> The Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Food and the Marine share of fund­ing en­sures that at least 40% of the fund will be avail­able to food busi­nesses. Both de­part­ments are also ex­plor­ing the de­vel­op­ment of a longer-term “busi­ness in­vest­ment scheme”, which would fo­cus on busi­ness de­vel­op­ment to sup­port en­ter­prises in in­vest­ing strate­gi­cally for the post-Brexit en­vi­ron­ment.

Is the scheme open to pri­mary pro­duc­ers?

>> Due to state aid rules, the scheme will not be avail­able to farm­ers and fish­er­men. An al­ter­na­tive scheme for pri­mary pro­duc­ers in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor and fish­er­men is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture. What will be the terms of the scheme?

>> Pro­posed terms in­clude a 4% max­i­mum in­ter­est rate (par­tic­i­pat­ing lenders may com­pete below this level). Terms and con­di­tions will be de­signed to en­sure the loans are ac­ces­si­ble.

The loans will be for up to three years.

The fund will run for two years. Ap­pli­ca­tions will be cleared for scheme el­i­gi­bil­ity through the SBCI.

To be el­i­gi­ble, ap­pli­cants must:

Be ex­posed to the (cur­rent or po­ten­tial) im­pacts of Brexit. Sub­mit a busi­ness sus­tain­abil­ity plan which demon­strates that they plan to adapt/in­no­vate/change in re­sponse to Brexit (fur­ther doc­u­ments may also be re­quired). Loans must be for the pur­pose of sup­port­ing work­ing cap­i­tal or cash­flow needs. Loans will then be pro­vided by com­mer­cial lenders, sub­ject to nor­mal lend­ing cri­te­ria.

Where does the fund­ing come from?

>> The scheme, through a com­bi­na­tion of State and EU guar­an­tees, will lever­age up to €300m of lend­ing to Ir­ish en­ter­prises at a pro­posed in­ter­est rate of about 4%, at a cost to the ex­che­quer of €23m.

This in­cludes €14m pro­vided by the Depart­ment of Busi­ness, En­ter­prise and In­no­va­tion, and €9m pro­vided by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Food and the Marine.

What is the time­line for the scheme?

>> Fur­ther de­tails of the loans will be pro­vided over the com­ing weeks.

The scheme is ex­pected to be in place in March, 2018.

It is an­tic­i­pated that the scheme will re­main open un­til March, 2020.

Are other such schemes in place?

>> The Depart­ment of Busi­ness, En­ter­prise and In­no­va­tion has a num­ber of other fi­nance for growth schemes in place, and ap­pli­ca­tions can be made at any time to the ex­ist­ing Credit Guar­an­tee Scheme and Mi­cro Fi­nance Ire­land.

Michael Gove, the UK’s sec­re­tary of state for en­vi­ron­ment, food and ru­ral Af­fairs, and Euro­pean com­mis­sioner for agri­cul­ture and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment Phil Ho­gan at last week’s In­ter­na­tional Dairy Fed­er­a­tion World Dairy Sum­mit in Belfast, where Brexit chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties for the dairy in­dus­try were high­lighted. To­mas Pi­etrangeli, UK manag­ing di­rec­tor of Arla Foods, said the in­dus­try faces ‘the big­gest seis­mic change in the po­lit­i­cal and fi­nan­cial land­scape in our life­time’.

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