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Ongoing Support For Business Recovery And Reposition Welcomed

Today’s Budget announcement by Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson will help Canterbury "recover, respond and reposition", says Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.

Budget 2020, entitled, Rebuilding Together, was delivered against a backdrop of significant international and domestic dislocation with Covid-19 firmly front of mind.

Ms Watson says with the extent of the fall-out associated with Covid-19 yet to come, according to key economic indicators, such as employment growth, unemployment, business confidence and investment, Budget 2020 is a positive first step towards recovery.

"Make no mistake; it will be quite some time for businesses to return to some element of normal, so we are pleased to see responsible targeted expenditure with an emphasis on business recovery in the Budget.

"In particular the local business community will welcome the $4 billion business support package which includes a targeted extension of wage subsidy scheme. It will be quite some time for businesses to return to normal and we need to recognise that. Just because businesses can open, does not mean they will be at full capacity for quite some time to come, based on demand, social distancing and general behaviours of consumers.

"In our latest survey, over 63 per cent of reported significant financial impacts from Covid-19, which shows that this is a key issue for local businesses. It is also a continual area of concern for the over two thousand businesses we have engaged with over the last two months through our Covid-19 helpline and over email and 6,000 businesses in on our webinars.

"We are pleased to see the package will be available for a further eight weeks for those who have suffered a 50 per cent reduction in turnover over the 30 days prior to application compared to last year."

The increased support for R&D and provision of over $200 million boost for NZTE to expand the scope and intensity of support provided to firms, including increasing activity for New Zealand firms in priority markets and expanding the digital services available to firms has also been welcomed by local exporters.

"As the gateway to the South Island, tourism is a key income-generator and employer for the Waitaha Canterbury region, alongside our export activity which is absolutely critical for the Canterbury region, so it is important that we maximise the spend of funds to reposition these sectors for the future.

"We need to ensure this additional funding is focused on not only supporting those businesses who have been impacted, but to make sure we focus on a long term strategy for this sector that means it comes out bigger, better stronger and more sustainable in the future."

Ms Watson says the focus on small business will make a significant difference for the region.

"The inclusion of $10 million for small business to improve e-commerce offerings and incentives and grants to encourage e-commerce adoption will play a key role in helping those businesses that are on the edge to be able to focus their energies on delivering their offering to a much wider customer-base.

"We are also pleased to see the focus on preparing for the future of work with the $1.6 billion Trades and Apprentice Package to provide opportunities for people of all ages to receive training, including specific $50 million for Māori Apprentice and Trades Training, and a further $121 million for community initiatives for at risk young people.

"Our people are our future, and our future workforce relies heavily on those coming through and those in existing work to have the key skills and abilities to ensure a productive workforce.

"The additional $3 billion for infrastructure projects will also be welcomed to kickstart work in the region. It is encouraging to hear about the focus on projects that will accelerate not only our economy but also provide a boost for our construction sector and jobs for many who have lost their main source of income."

While Ms Watson says the Budget shows an acknowledgement of the key role businesses will play in the country’s economic recovery, there is little in the way of stripping away inappropriate regulations and controls.

The Chamber will be holding a Post-Budget webinar with Hon Grant Robertson on Monday, 18 May.

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