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Maori Council Releases Support Package For Small And Medium Business

The New Zealand Maori Council has swung in behind small and medium sized businesses having released a suite of policy recommendations that include immediate taxation changes, introduction of a quickly implementable asset write off scheme, commercial rental accommodation supplement and payroll relief through an ongoing wage subsidy program – all designed to ensure small and medium sized business not just survives the period of the lockdown but is also able to thrive. The Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council, Matthew Tukaki, has said while the package does target support for Maori “the reality is this package applies to all small and medium sized enterprise across Aotearoa”. Tukaki has vast experience in economic challenges such as these having led the world’s oldest and largest employment companies, Drake International, through the global financial crisis across multiple countries between 2007-2010 and having represented business and industry globally while on the Board of the United Nations Global Compact.

"We must push back against the storm facing our small business & we must move from surviving to thriving. We must focus on hope, aspiration & opportunity.” He said and “this means developing policies that are easily implementable and focus on sustaining cashflow, freeing up working capital, supporting payroll and wage relief as well as a suite of measures to further grow small business export growth. In many ways we must defeat what otherwise could be a much higher unemployment rate especially amongst Maori and more importantly in the regions and provinces where once unemployment takes hold it is hard to reverse.”

Instant asset write-off policy for small business

“The first measure is the introduction of a strengthened instant asset write off scheme that small business be able to instantly write off asset purchases which will also simplify depreciation. The asset purchase ceiling would be $100,000 and target assets that would be purchased to both build and grow the business or purchase at a time when the rules around depreciation were a lot more flexible. If you were running a coffee shop then this would be items such as coffee machines, electrical goods and so on. If you were running a trade related business, it could extend to tools and equipment through to a vehicle. The policy would target businesses with turnover of $100 million and less with the objective to create stimulus in the economy whereby cashflow and sales are shared across the small business sector. It also frees up additional working capital. Purchases would each carry a ceiling limit of $50,000 and extend to other items such as computer equipment and technology.” Tukaki said

Trade services relief and support package

“The second includes trade services relief and support. We know that a great many small businesses in New Zealand operate as sole traders and SME’s between 1-5 employees and contractors and we also know that many include those working in the trades sector. We also know that Maori are a significant part of this workforce. While we believe that each of these small businesses would be able to take advantage of the instant asset write off policy suggestion through the purchasing of tools and equipment we also know that they will be able to take advantage of the ongoing demand in the construction and infrastructure sectors. However, their cashflow on restarting their businesses post the lock down will mean they still have tight cashflow even though there is demand. This also means that they are likely to employ but will still have to cashflow wages waiting for invoices to be paid. That is why we would like to see two things. First is an additional wage subsidy program equal to 50% of the payroll for the first four weeks of each employee being returned to work. This will enable the small business to cashflow 50% of their overall payroll for the first four weeks until invoice revenue is restored. The second is to allow the small business to purchase tools and equipment on behalf of the worker and still take advantage of the instant asset write off.” Tukaki said

Introduction of an interim small business accommodation supplement

“The third is the introduction of an interim small business accommodation supplement. We know that one of the major costs to running a small business is rent on a commercial premise. We also know that while many small business operators have not been able to operate the costs have still been adding up. The addition of a small business accommodation supplement of between 25-35% of the rental cost per week for the first two months of restarting post lock-down would again provide operators to return to a balanced cashflow state by removing a portion of the weekly expense. This would however be limited to small business such as the retail, trades and services sectors with turnover of less than $20 million per annum with a ceiling of $750 per week for a period of two months. As part of this policy approach we would also advocate that small business owners and operators who are operating from a residential premise become eligible for the accommodation supplement paid out at the percentage of space utilised. This is like the write off provisions of office space as a deduction but in addition to it.” Tukaki said

Other measures include: (see attached):

  • Introduction of an interim small business accommodation supplement
  • Establishment of a National Ombudsman for Small Business Office
  • Additional access to research and development concessions
  • Export support and online technology package

In addition to these measures the New Zealand Maori Councils National Taskforce will convene a special online hui with related parties, sectors and organisations to discuss what additional support might be needed to get the following industries back up and running and on a pathway to growth post the lockdown:

  • Maori Tourism
  • Maori film and screen
  • Maori digital and technology enterprises
  • Maori retail (online)

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