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Report: Panel on Business Compliance Costs

1 July 2003 Media Statement

Report-back on implementation of recommendations by the Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs

The Government has made excellent progress in implementing recommendations of the Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs, Minister for Small Business John Tamihere says.

Mr Tamihere today released a progress report on implementation of the recommendations of the Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs.

The ministerial panel was appointed by Commerce Minister Paul Swain in 2000 as a key plank in the government’s compliance cost reduction programme. Having sought the views of businesses throughout the country, the panel submitted 162 recommendations to the government on ways to reduce compliance costs for business.

In December 2001, the government issued its response to the panel’s recommendations, Striking the Balance, in which it agreed (at least partially or in principle) to 131 of the Panel’s proposals.

More than 80% of these proposals are now implemented or their implementation is underway. The Government is confident that all the most significant recommendations have been implemented, capturing at least 95% of potential benefits in terms of compliance cost reduction.

The initiatives and projects undertaken in response to the panel’s recommendations range across numerous government agencies and many pieces of legislation, such as employment relations, health and safety, accident insurance, local government and government statistics. Key initiatives include:

ONE-STOP BUSINESS PORTAL

One of the prominent themes of the panel’s recommendations was to increase the accessibility of government services and information on compliance requirements via e-technology. One of the main initiatives in this area is the government's sponsorship of the setting up of a one-stop business portal.
Led by Industry NZ, this web-based portal will allow access to business services across government (e.g. IRD, Department of Labour, ACC, Companies Office) as well as providing private sector information. The first stage of the portal is due to go ‘live’ this month.

RMA-RELATED INITIATIVES

A number of initiatives have made it easier for businesses dealing with Resource Management Act issues:
- Additional funding for the Environment Court, and collaboration between the Ministry for the Environment and the Environment Court, mean significant reductions in Environment Court backlog and delays are being achieved. Introduction of limited notification will curb frivolous and vexatious objections.
- With further funding the Ministry for Environment has also implemented a number of projects that will improve the resource consent process. For example, the Ministry is moving to establish a scheme to train and accredit local councillors and independent commissioners involved in making decisions on resource consent applications. It is also developing guidance on case management and charging practices for iwi and hapu authorities.

Implementing the panel's recommendations was just part of the government's wider programme of reducing compliance costs and assisting business, Mr Tamihere said. As part of its wider programme, the government is introducing related initiatives, including:

TAX SIMPLIFICATION

The government is progressing a tax simplification programme addressing the tax issues of small to medium enterprises. Measures include:
- A discussion document proposing tax simplification measures will be issued later this year. The proposals, such as frequency of tax payment and better aligning tax payment with the income earning process, address areas of concern raised by the panel.
- A key proposal in the discussion document is that the government will encourage employers to use a commercial payroll intermediary by covering the intermediary's costs for the first five employees.

MEETING THE NEEDS OF SMALL-MEDIUM BUSINESS

- The appointment process of a Small Business Advisory Group is in its final stages. The eight members of the advisory group will be drawn from the business community and will have experience running or working with small businesses. The group will advise Ministers on issues and policies affecting small business, including compliance costs.
- A new Small Business Directorate recently established within the Ministry of Economic Development will work closely with the advisory group and guide issues on small-medium businesses.
- In February 2004 the government will host an SME (small-medium enterprise) Summit, along with a series of regional summits, to help define the needs of SMEs and the government’s role in relation to those needs.

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS

Every regulatory proposal is now subject to a regulatory impact analysis to ensure a robust and transparent process around business compliance costs.


Mr Tamihere said he was pleased to see prompt progress being made towards implementing the panel's recommendations.

"Creating conditions under which New Zealand businesses can be innovative and operate most effectively remains a key priority for this government. The progress being made by the government on implementing the panel's recommendations will ensure that compliance cost barriers to innovation and effectiveness will be removed wherever possible."

A full progress report on implementation of the panel recommendations is available at the Ministry of Economic Development website – www.med.govt.nz.

A media briefing on the report-back will be held in meeting room 6.31, Bowen House, Tuesday, July 1, 1.15pm.

ENDS

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