Economic Support Package for businesses needs to be expanded

The New Zealand National Party

The Government needs to clarify urgently whether it will expand its Economic Support Package which is one of the least generous amongst comparable countries, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The lack of timely economic data makes it difficult to assess the extent of job losses but informal surveys, such as one by the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, shows 30 per cent of businesses polled aren’t confident they will survive the pandemic.

“We need better information, and clarity about the government’s intentions. It is likely that further support will be needed urgently.

“Grant Robertson said a week ago an announcement on support for commercial rent was coming. We are at the midpoint of the lockdown now, the Government needs to get on with it.

“Cash flow injections for small businesses, as proposed by Phil O’Reilly at the Epidemic Select Committee yesterday, is another option.

“We are now seeing that New Zealand’s wage subsidy scheme is less generous than other comparable countries, covering only 60 per cent of the median wage and only lasting for three months.

“Compared to Canada, where the wage subsidy covers 75 per cent of wages for three months and, Australia, where the wage subsidy covers 70 per cent of the median wage and lasts for six months.

“The wage subsidy in Australia has also been accompanied by many other measures to help businesses, including cash payments to small businesses to help with working capital and assistance with commercial rents.

“This is what is needed in New Zealand. The wage subsidy is good as far as it goes but other than that, businesses are getting very little help.

“Like Australia, the Government must do more to assist with commercial rents and other mechanisms to help businesses cover their costs or we are risking a greater loss of jobs than necessary.”

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