Increasing productivity is top of mind for many small businesses but industry leaders say this year’s Budget won’t be a win for the sector.
Health, education and housing will likely to receive the majority of Government’s funding this week, despite the Labour-led government’s clear small business bent, Sue De Bievre, chief executive of Beany, says.
“I don’t think there’s going to be much in it for us,” De Bievre said. “But I’m hoping there’s going to be something around research and development, to boost productivity, in terms of tax credits or grants.”
De Bievre said she did not think small business expected a lot from the Budget.
“Business confidence has really slumped so I think its probably fair to say small business is not expecting anything very helpful.
“What small business, and business in general, is suffering from is high levels of uncertainty around what this Government is going to do around tax, immigration; all of those big drivers, so anything that can create more certainty, I think, will be super helpful.”
Government’s proposed “Amazon tax” to collect GST on low-value goods under $400 bought online was a “good start” in implementing legislation and resources to support small businesses, De Bievre said.
“All business wants is certainty and fairness, they want to feel like they are being treated fairly, so I think the Amazon tax is a step in the right direction,” she said.
“It will be fantastic if the Government can find some money, and some political will, around lifting productivity for New Zealand.”
De Bievre said it would be good if it could put further funding into the Business Performance Panel, its recently-announced productivity resource.
Keeping the 90-day employment trial would also benefit small businesses, she said.
Small Business Tauranga chairman Steven Farrant said he would also like to see Government keep the 90-day trial period legislation.
Government should also move to make sure immigration policies are responsive to regional labour shortages, keep compliance costs down and continue to simplify tax administration, he said.
“Not all small businesses want to grow into big businesses or exporters,” Farrant said.
“Like many first budgets for a new Government this will be the start of a process, an indication of where they would like to head.
“The PM has already played down this Budget as a rebuilding Budget – so I’m not expecting any surprises or significant announcements.”
Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said small business would be hoping for lower taxes and less regulation, particularly in the early start-up stages, but would not be expecting this.
“SME’s need an environment of certainty in which to grow and invest so they will be looking for announcements with story telling that has been thought through,” Barnett said. “What we should expect will be statements around immigration that will offer the regions short-term relief for skill and labour shortages and long term commitment to trades and apprenticeship initiatives from Government.”