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Local Advocacy Key To Central Response

"Cashflow, confidence and connection" are pivotal during these challenging times, says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.

Ms Watson says the significant, sustained number of enquiries from local businesses demonstrates the heightened need for collaboration with central and local Government.

"During these uncertain times, cashflow, confidence and connections will be pivotal in shaping a thriving business community for the future. We continue to receive a significant number of enquiries asking for business advice, support and resources, reinforcing our role in seeking clarity and escalating issues with local and central Government.

"Through our BusinessNZ Network, we have been working closely with Government over the past few weeks to ensure there is support that meets the needs of business, including practical measures to promote business and job continuity and acknowledge the Government’s response to the prioritisation of these issues.

"We have provided input and helped to shape the wage subsidy and various iterations to ensure it is fit-for-purpose. We have also sought clarity on essential services, particularly on what constitutes an essential service and any levels of operation our businesses may be able to undertake.

"Other outcomes such as the delay to new capital requirements for banks, allowing banks to make more credit available; depreciation deductions for commercial and industrial buildings; waived interest on some late tax payments; temporary relaxation of duration of some work visas; and, consideration of amending insolvency law to head off job cuts and company closures due to emergency-induced insolvency have all been welcomed by businesses and are a positive result of the collaboration between the BusinessNZ network, of which The Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce is a part of, and the Government.

"We are also continuing to provide information on business needs to Government decision-makers around operational changes to the register of businesses able to manufacture COVID-19 protection items."

Ms Watson says there remains a clear desire for businesses to be able to move to Alert Level Three, carefully balanced with public health objectives, which requires concise, consistent guidelines around what changes in Alert Levels will entail for the business community.

"Many businesses are able to operate in compliance with physical distancing and hygiene requirements and are keen to move to Alert Level Three as soon as conditions permit."

Ms Watson says there also needs to be a strong focus on positioning businesses now for the medium and long-term future. "The focus from local and central Government needs to be two-fold. Survival of businesses in the immediate term is critical, but just as critical will be supporting business revival for the first few months out of lock-down and operating in what will be an uncertain and very different environment in the year ahead.

"We will continue to support businesses through this period, while also working to shape a supportive operating environment that promotes business longevity when we do emerge from lock-down."

The Chamber has extended its support services to now support all local businesses in the West Coast and Canterbury region, as well as their membership base.

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