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Cabinet Approves Business Continuity Package In Response To COVID-19

Cabinet today approved the development of a Business Continuity Package to help support the economy through the disruption caused by COVID-19.

“New Zealand is well-placed to respond to COVID-19. We have been running surpluses and our net debt position at 19.5% of GDP is well below what we inherited, and well below other countries,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

“We’ve also got ahead of this, through the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme of road, rail, health and school infrastructure investment around the country.

“Government Ministers have been in regular contact with businesses and industry groups as we work together to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. We have already taken action to support businesses and workers, and we are now in a position to announce the next steps in response to this rapidly changing situation.”

The Business Continuity Package includes:

· a targeted wage subsidy scheme for workers in the most adversely affected sectors.

· training and re-deployment options for affected employees; and

· working with banks on the potential for future working capital support for companies that face temporary credit constraints;

As part of the package:

· The Treasury and IRD have been directed to develop tax policy options in line with the goal of reducing the impact for affected businesses, to support businesses to maintain operational continuity.

· The Treasury and MSD have been directed to develop policy options to support households to maintain incomes and labour market attachment.

The detail of this package is now being worked through. It will be discussed again at the Cabinet COVID-19 committee on Wednesday, and the Government expects to be in a position to make further detailed announcements next week.

At all stages, the Government will be engaging with business groups and industry representatives, to make sure the Business Continuity Package meets their targeted needs.

Grant Robertson will be making a speech on Thursday at a Wellington Chamber of Commerce event, expanding on the Government’s approach.

This comes on top of what the Government is already doing in partnership with industries and business groups.

To date, the Government has made a number of immediate interventions. This includes:

· Support for the tourism and fisheries industries, an increase to regional business support funding, and directing government departments to cut payment times to businesses to 10 working days.

· IRD and MSD are supporting businesses and workers on issues like provisional tax readjustments, late payment and filing fees, wage instalment plans and income support.

· MSD’s rapid response teams are already in place in regions like Tairawhiti. And removal of the MSD stand-down period.

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