Certainty of government support imperative in uncertain times

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Andrew Bayly

Andrew Bayly

Wellington, September 15, 2021

National MP suggests seven initiatives to sustain businesses

                                                       National MP Andrew Bayly explains his proposals at a special luncheon held for National MPs and guests at                                   Indian Newslink offices on April 30, 2021 (INL Photo by Narendra Bedekar)

As Auckland enters its fifth week under Level 4 lockdown, the government must present its plan to assist businesses to get through the stringent restrictions.

The worst result is for businesses to fail from a lack of cashflow as a result of the government’s decision to impose crippling lockdowns across the country.

If businesses do go to the wall, then potentially a significant number of people could end up on the jobseeker (unemployment) benefit. Some 50,000 people lost their jobs in the first lockdown and many are still on a benefit.

Given the potentially devastating economic impacts for Auckland, National believes that the government urgently needs to do the following:

  • (a) Confirm as soon as possible that the Wage Subsidy and Resurgence payments will continue to be paid to those qualifying companies at Level 2.5 or above. Clarity is essential to provide confidence to Auckland business-owners that they will receive the same financial support as those businesses currently receive outside of Auckland.

  • (b) Implement immediately a Business Rental Support package to assist those companies entitled to the wage subsidy. Given a prolonged period of lockdown that is tough for many businesses, particularly in the retail and hospitality sectors, tenants and landlords need financial support.

National’s rental support scheme would mean those small businesses entitled to wage support payments would also receive a 50% subsidy from the government, backed by a binding arbitration process to resolve tenancy issues promptly.

(c) Extend the Covid-19 temporary loss carry-back scheme to apply for the 2022 tax year. This is a further way of providing cashflow relief to businesses.

  • (d) Ensure that the Ministry of Social Development processes all wage subsidy payments within three working days for the self-employed and sole traders.

Significant delays are occurring, particularly for those who are self-employed, which mean that people have not received their wage subsidy payments due to administrative and IT issues.

  • (e) Grant exemptions to Auckland businesses that manufacture critical building products that are supplied to the rest of the country to allow construction projects to progress Clause 29A of the Health Order currently restricts this to coated roofing, plaster and gypsum board and cavity insulation products. It is essential that we allow Auckland -based manufacturers to supply products to construction projects across the country without delay.

  • (f) Implement a mental health programme for small business owners and their staff

Given the significant pressures, we must work with Business New Zealand network and regional chambers of commerce agencies to deliver this support nationally.

In the event that the government imposes further lockdowns, it must undertake contingency planning now.

Because of the devastating effects of lockdowns, the government must agree on protocols to allow some of the 250,000 construction and civil contractors workers to operate under a restricted arrangement during further Level 4 lockdowns.

This would include reduced number of people on sites and regular testing of workers. Building roads and houses is essential during the forthcoming summer months.

The government must also determine how to allow different areas of cities, such as Auckland, to operate at different levels of lockdown rather than blanket arrangements covering areas unaffected or unlikely to be affected by Covid outbreaks.

Andrew Bayly is Member of Parliament (National Party) elected from Port Waikato. He is the Shadow Treasurer (Revenue) and the Party’s Spokesperson for Infrastructure and Statistics. Indian Newslink understands that Mr Bayly’s proposals enunciated above have the approval of Auckland Employers & Manufacturers Association, Hospitality New Zealand, Restaurant Association of New Zealand and Franchise Association of New Zealand.

 

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