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Concerns for businesses due to coronavirus

The Finance Minister’s speech at the Wellington Chamber of Commerce’s Capital Matters conference this morning shows the Government is listening to businesses’ concerns regarding COVID-19, but it needs to continue to move fast to support business and employees, says the Wellington Chamber of Commerce chief Executive John Milford.

"We appreciate the Hon. Grant Robertson’s update on the Government’s response to COVID-19.

"Any response certainly should be timely, targeted and proportional, but businesses need to know that some level of support will be there immediately to prevent any disruption to business continuity through the three scenarios outlined.

"Business needs to keep operating and to continue cashflow to pay wages and keep the lights on. What we can’t have is a significant gap in time between any disruption and the assistance on offer.

"We are hearing from our members, particularly smaller businesses in the hospitality, retail, export, tourism, and education sectors, that they are already hurting from export delays, fewer visitors, and uncertainty in the community.

"Our business confidence survey is currently out in the field and we can already see a high number of respondents acknowledging that the coronavirus is the biggest barrier to their confidence and certainty over the next 12 months.

"Funding for business advisory services, faster payments from government departments and bank assistance for customers is a good start. Instructing MSD and IRD to work with businesses and workers on targeted tax adjustments, such as deferred payments on provisional tax and GST, also show the Minister is listening," says John.

"We would also like to see some promotional work done to push Kiwis to support their local shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s small businesses like these that are really hit hard in times like this.

"It’s good to see the Government being proactive about its planned approach and we eagerly await further information. We acknowledge that businesses, workers and government need to work to together on the plan.

"The Wellington Chamber of Commerce has been working with the Government on this issue and remains ready and willing to help it expedite its plans."

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