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SME Satisfaction For Govt Climbs With COVID-19 Response

The response to the coronavirus pandemic has seen a significant rise in SME satisfaction with the New Zealand Government.

The latest MYOB Business Monitor survey of 1,000 SME operators from across the country, conducted throughout March, showed their satisfaction with the Government’s performance climbed nine percentage points, from 21% to 30% in the final two weeks of the month.

On 17 March the Government announced a $12.1 billion rescue package, which included $8.7 billion targeted at providing support for struggling employers. A number of cashflow and tax measures designed to reduce pressure on local businesses were also introduced. The employer support scheme was later extended and the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme was also established.

MYOB NZ country manager Ingrid Cronin-Knight says the Government has been recognised by the SME sector for taking significant action quickly and offering targeted relief for SMEs in particular.

“Throughout the month, SME operators across the country were coming to terms with the seriousness of COVID-19 and the far-reaching implications of the global coronavirus pandemic for the local economy,” says Ms Cronin-Knight.

“The Government’s decisive handling of the situation and its recognition of the importance of maintaining cashflow in particular for SMEs has seen them win greater support from the sector.”

Nadine Hickman, director of Pep Talk Media, says the response from the Government was very good from an SME point of view.

“This all happened so fast, one week everything was normal, by the next our businesses, as we knew them, ceased to exist,” says Nadine Hickman. “That's a pretty frightening thing to get your head around.”

“It certainly eased the pressure having the assistance offered so quickly and that it was very easy to apply. It eased those immediate fears, to allow us time to catch our breath and pivot to a new direction and new strategy to go forward.”

Ms Cronin-Knight says while the pandemic has completely shifted priorities for the Government, the key policies SME operators are interested in this election year could still have some relevance in the coming months.

“Reducing the business tax rate, supporting research and development and increasing our investment in infrastructure could all play some part in stimulating growth after the threat of COVID-19 has been reduced,” says Ms Cronin-Knight.

According to the MYOB Business Monitor, over half (54%) of SME operators would like to see the business tax rate reduced to 25%, almost a quarter (22%) would support making R&D tax credits more easily available to SMEs, and the same number would like to see greater investment in roads. A further 20% would like to see increased investment in essential infrastructure.

“Although times are looking pretty tough at the moment and most businesses are focusing on the challenges they face in the here-and-now, we are also encouraging SME operators to think about what their post-pandemic plan will look like.”

“Any opportunities the Government can offer to not only help SMEs survive but to also take part in our national recovery programme – whether that’s through stimulus for R&D, or opportunities to bid on Government contracts for parts of major works programmes – will likely be well received by the sector.”

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