6 November 2020

Prioritisation of small business support “very positive”

The Prime Minister’s announcement that small business support will be the new Labour Government’s top economic priority before Christmas has been welcomed by Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.

This includes extension of the Small Business Loan scheme out to three years and the interest free period to two years and initiating the roll out of the Flexi-Wage job support programme. The Prime Minister also confirmed that more infrastructure projects will go through the RMA fast-track process, and there will be a focus on options to boost exports.

Ms Watson says the announcement is “very positive news for small business”.

“Extension of the loan scheme parameters will be welcomed by business, and in particular the ability to borrow to invest in new equipment and digital infrastructure as these are two areas that we know will benefit key sectors, such as manufacturing and construction, and also retail and hospitality respectively.

“This will enable businesses to accelerate plans for future growth, diversification or technology advancement at a time when it is most needed. It will also open the loan availability to businesses that may not have fit previous criteria. Supporting businesses to become more digital in the post-COVID environment has become one of the key areas of support sought after at The Chamber through the Regional Business Partners Network.

“The flexi-wage scheme also shows that the Government is focused on training and re-skilling, which will benefit employers, employees and the economy, and help the country adapt and respond to emerging opportunities in an accelerated future of work environment.”

Ms Watson says the focus on trade will also be welcomed by local exporters.

“For Waitaha Canterbury, where we have a strong exporter community, the trade missions to key markets such as the US, China, EU and UK are a step in the right direction in terms of protecting and enhancing our international trade relationships and promoting the New Zealand story. Certainty around planned border re-opening would also be welcomed to support this.”

However, Ms Watson says there was concern around the Prime Minister’s comments regarding the extension of sick leave provisions to ten days and plans to introduce draft legislation in the house before the end of the year.

“There is a concern that now is not the right time to be extending the financial commitment of employers. Doubling the number of sick leave days will have a significant impact on businesses, especially small businesses that are already struggling, coupled with the scheduled increase in the minimum wage in April next year.

“The last nine months has demonstrated the Government’s commitment to working with businesses and an openness to listening to and acting on feedback from the business community. At The Chamber we look forward to continuing to play our role as a conduit for that engagement.”

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For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Leeann Watson, Chief Executive, 027 447 7775, [email protected]

The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce (The Chamber) is a not-for-profit membership-based service organisation that has been the home and voice of business in the Canterbury region since 1859. Comprised of over 2,600 member organisations that represent over 60,000 employees, The Chamber’s purpose is to empower people in business by providing advisory and consultancy support in employment relations, human resources, health and safety, international trade, manufacturing, migrant support, research and development grants, and training and development in many areas.

Affiliated to BusinessNZ and the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry