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Next Week's Budget - Roadmap To The Future?

9 June 2000

Media Release

"...And time to stop unwinding the past."

Recent rhetoric by Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton that business had received a good run from previous governments could not be further from the reality.

"Business spent a lot of time urging the last government to put in place an integrated business policy for economic growth.

"They failed to respond, and suffered the consequences at the election," said Michael Barnett, Chief Executive of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mr Anderton is dead wrong in stating that the Government should not listen to the concerns of business. Both Mr Anderton and Finance Minister Michael Cullen should never lose sight of the fact that 90% of business are small-medium, employing 20 people of less, and many switched parties at the last election, said Mr Barnett.

"We are not talking about the members of the NZ Business Roundtable, or even of the bulk of large employers. If the Labour-Alliance Government wants to put right what is wrong in the business world, they will heed the plain talking messages that have been consistently expressed:
 The cost of doing business, i.e. interest rates
 Compliance costs - everything from the time involved in meeting regulatory issues on ACC, TAX/IRD to the RMA/local government regulations;
 Sourcing required skills/staff with the "right" attitude;
 Encouraging in practical ways more businesses to grow their business.

With Mr Cullen's first Budget due next week, it is useful to re-state the basic concerns of business, said Mr Barnett.

What business seeks has not changed all that much over the last three years - pragmatic "hands on" support and encouragement from Government that targets the above issues will ensure Mr Cullen's Budget is well received.

"As we constantly told the previous government, New Zealand badly needs to get more businesses established that are capable of exporting. We claim to be an export-led economy, but the reality is that just 8000 or less than 1% of business are regular exporters."

The reason why support for the Government has eroded in the past few weeks is obvious. "Business has continued to send its basic message to the new Government urging a coherent set of policies designed for growth. However, the message coming back to date has been one of political interest to stay focused on unpicking the 1980s and ‘90s."

Business will be hoping that next week's Budget is a forward-looking document, said Mr Barnett. "An integrated business policy that charts a growth path would restart the process of encouraging small-medium business to forge ahead with their own earnings, savings and investment power needed to take New Zealand forward."

 For more information contact: Michael Barnett, Ph: (09) 309 6100 or Mob: 021 631 150

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