Call for Emergency Legislation on Mortgages and Rent

Seanad Eireann Candidate Peter Finnegan is calling on the Government to enact Emergency Legislation requiring Banks to place a moratorium on mortgage payments and loan repayments for a period of six months while the country is engulfed in the Coronavirus crisis.  He is also calling for emergency measures by Government to assist businesses who continue to pay staff wages for the next three months.

Peter Finnegan said, “The economy is facing a major problem as cashflow dries up with the slowdown and some sectors have had a complete collapse of business activity. The hospitality industry, tourism, conferences and events, are some of the unintentional victims in the war against the virus. People may forget that the staff in these businesses, many on modest wages and struggling to cope with mortgage and rent outlay, have an absolute fear of growing debt and lack of income for mere survival.”

He continued, “When the economic crash happened, facilitated by the banking sector, we, the taxpayers, rescued the banks. This is the time for the banks to repay this debt. Government needs to move now to legislate as an emergency measure suspending all mortgage and loan repayments for a period of six months for individuals and businesses. The six month period can be added to the end of the agreed term. The effect of this action would be to reduce pressure on businesses and employees, and to relieve workers of one of the largest outlay costs, mortgage repayments.”

“Legislation is also required under emergency powers to address the rental sector in terms of businesses and individuals. A nationwide rent freeze should happen now. In addition landlords should be required to only seek 50% of the rent of tenants for the next six months with the Government guaranteeing that they will recoup the losses by way of tax exemption over a consequent three year period,” he said.

The effect of these emergency measures would be to reduce fear, provide support for recovery of business activity, keep cash flowing in communities, and enable employers to retain staff on payroll, even on reduced wages. In addition Government itself should end PRSI payments and Universal Social Charge deductions from salaries for six months and make this applicable where employers continue to pay wages during the emergency.

He concluded, “Our current economic system is based on cashflow, arising from business activity, being released by means of wages and recycled by means of spending.  We urgently need a ‘life support system’ now for the businesses and workers who keep our economy healthy. We are at war with a silent enemy, Coronavirus, and wartime calls for exceptional measures that are innovative and resolute. This is one such measure that is required now.”

Peter Finnegan is an Independent for Change Candidate in the NUI Panel for Seanad Eireann. Peter is a former Director of Economic Development & International Relations with Dublin City Council. He also worked with FAS on Employment Programmes, and Social Inclusion.

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