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Statistics NZ slashes red tape for small business

Statistics NZ slashes red tape for small business

A concerted effort by Statistics New Zealand to lighten the compliance burden for businesses has been highly successful, Statistics Minister John Tamihere says.

Mr Tamihere, who is also Minister for Small Business, said it was particularly pleasing to see that the compliance burden was being reduced for small businesses, which bear a disproportionate compliance burden worldwide.

"By international standards, New Zealand has a relatively light compliance burden, but we can always do better,and I congratulate Statistics NZ on their efforts to date," Mr Tamihere says.

"While some level of compliance will always be a fact of life for business, as Statistics Minister I am committed to eliminating any unnecessary compliance costs so business can get on with doing business, and spend less time dealing with compliance. I am pleased to see Statistics NZ is moving in the same direction."

The reductions in compliance achieved at Statistics NZ include:

Changes to the Retail Trade Survey have reduced small business compliance by 25 per cent since their introduction in October last year.

The changes were specifically directed at small business. Since August last year the use of tax data to maintain the Statistics NZ Business Frame has been significantly extended – thus reducing the need to survey businesses to collect information.

The post out of the Monthly Frame Update Survey has been reduced by about 30,000 questionnaires (50 per cent) a year, and the Annual Frame Updating Survey has been reduced by about 23 per cent, from a post-out of 121,000 in 2002 to 110,000 in 2003 and 93,000 in 2004.

Both the monthly and annual update questionnaires have been streamlined – in the case of some annual update respondents, the number of pages they have to complete has been reduced from 22 to just two. Statistics NZ is further expanding the use of tax data to replace direct surveys.

In 2003 GST returns were introduced in the Wholesale Trade Survey, reducing the number of survey respondents by more than 600 each quarter (a 36 per cent reduction). And the use of GST returns in the Quarterly Survey of Manufacturing meant the number of businesses surveyed was reduced by 450 (28 per cent).

As part of Statistics NZ's ongoing strategy to reduce compliance, it will increase consultation with businesses over survey design, communicate with businesses at times most convenient to those businesses, provide clearer information about survey requirements and identify and reduce overlap and unnecessary surveying.

In consultation with business, Statistics NZ is working to ensure that the information it gathers is more relevant to business and easier to access.

Mr Tamihere said progress by Statistics NZ in reducing compliance was greatly encouraging and he expected further gains would be made in coming months.

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