1st October 2019
The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, today announced that she has secured Cabinet approval to publish the Industrial Development (Amendment) Bill 2019.
The Bill provides for further enhancements to the suite of ongoing Brexit supports, which the Government has been providing to a range of business sectors. It will empower Enterprise Ireland to make loans to client companies for the first time in certain circumstances. The Bill will also increase the ability of Enterprise Ireland to provide R&D grants to help companies to diversify their offering, including the agri-food sector.
Minister Humphreys stated that “These measures will give additional power to Enterprise Ireland to further support businesses through investment, loans and a greater level of research, development and innovation grants. This will help firms to remain competitive and resilient in the face of global challenges including Brexit.”
The Bill also contains several technical amendments to existing legislation. For example, the proposals would, in a no Brexit deal scenario only, increase the overall funding which Microfinance Ireland (MFI) may receive in its lifetime by €10 million, from €25 million to €35 million. This would ensure that MFI would be in a position to provide increased volumes of loans to microenterprises most impacted in a disorderly Brexit situation.
Note for Editors
The Bill is aimed at increasing the ability of Enterprise Ireland to provide a competitive, flexible and enhanced offering to its client companies in terms of research, development and innovation grants. For example, the Bill will allow Enterprise Ireland to grant-aid the horticulture sector for the first time. The Bill will also empower EI to provide lending investment instruments to client companies as an enterprise development support and seeks to enable EI to maintain the value of the State’s investments through follow on share investment and convertible debt instruments.
The Bill will also provide for a technical amendment to Section 5(2) of the Microenterprise Loan Fund Act, 2012. Section 5 currently caps the equity that Microfinance Ireland can receive at €25 million (providing for a grant of €10 million under Section 5(1) and a further €15 million under Section 5(2)). The amendment to Section 5(2) of the Act will increase this cap by €10 million (from €15 million to €25 million) to a total of €35 million. This will provide a further €10 million to enable MFI to provide increased lending to microenterprises in the event of a disorderly Brexit.
The Bill will also introduce a technical amendment to increase the overall capital funding allowance that can be provided to IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland – in their combined lifetime - from €7 billion to €14 billion. There is currently a monetary limit of €7bn set out in legislation on the total combined funding that can be provided to IDA, EI and SFI. They are close to that limit now following decades of operation, so the Department is using the opportunity of this Bill to increase the cap, so that they can continue operating into the future. This is something that would need to be done anyway irrespective of Brexit.
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) plays a key role in implementing the Government’s policies of stimulating the productive capacity of the economy and creating an environment which supports job creation and maintenance. The Department has lead responsibility for Irish policy on global trade and inward investment and a remit to promote fair competition in the marketplace, protect consumers and safeguard workers.
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